A deep and extreme dislike, hate is a negative emotion that is directed towards a particular individual, groups, objects, behaviors, or ideas. Hate can be as simple as not liking coffee because of its bitterness, or it can be as big as hating a particular group of people because of their culture or their sexuality. But why do people feel hate? We may never be too sure of a singular answer. Below are some factors that play a large role to help us understand hate.
1. The Threat of “Different”
Humans are afraid of the unknown. It’s basic instinct to be afraid and resist something different. An example of this is how a significant number of white Americans fear Muslims and African-Americans, deeming them terrorists and criminals. This is explained by the In-group Out-group Theory which postulates that when humans are threatened, they immediately turn to the in-group, or the group that a person identifies with as a survival mechanism. The driving factor with this theory is the emotion of love and aggression. Love-for the favored group; and aggression for the group that has been deemed as threatening or dangerous.
2. Threat to Self
A common occurrence wherein people seem to hate something or someone for no direct reason. An example of this an intense displeasure of someone deemed ugly, fat or slutty regardless if it’s true or not. The reason for this is a phenomenon coined by Sigmund Freud called projection. This is an unconscious projection of negative traits or insecurities towards another person. A person who is highly conscious of their weight is more likely to call out someone else being fat, for fear that they may get called fat themselves. In short, a person will hate on another person because they see something that they hate about themselves.
3. Lack of Self-acceptance
Self-acceptance is the compassion to see and accept the self for what it is. If people cannot accept a part of themselves, they will have the unconscious impulse to attack others to make themselves feel better. This is heavily tied to projection because this is mainly one of the reasons why people hate on others.
4. Mode for Distraction
For some people, acts of hate are simply to distract themselves from feelings of loneliness, inadequacy, injustice and helplessness. The feeling of hate is from a perceived threat that often manifests as aggression and hostility towards an individual or a group. Some individuals who are hateful often lash out to regain some semblance of power and control. In a group setting, particularly if members of the same group share the same feelings of hate towards someone or something, the hate often fosters a bond of camaraderie and connection that fills a person’s need for identity. Thus, beginning the destructive cycle of hate.
5. Living Society and Culture
Society and culture play a large role in shaping the attitude of an individual. If a person is part of a culture that promotes violence and competition, it is highly likely that they act hostile when confronted with conflict. Often times, due to the nature of a culture to protect themselves from outsiders, vulnerability is a liability that leaves no room for exploration and empathy.
How can hate be resolved?
Hatred is a learned behavior. Nobody is born with hate in their hearts. While humans are capable of destruction, they are also capable of extremely great things such as compassion and love. In number 3, it was pointed out how lack of compassion is the reason for feelings of hate. While individually, humans are different from one another, it is the fear and vulnerability that allows each person to connect. By upholding compassion and understanding to one another, it will undoubtedly lead to healing.
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Hewstone, Miles; Rubin, Mark; Willis, Hazel (February 2002). “Intergroup Bias”
Zhong, Chen-Bo; Phillips, Katherine W.; Leonardelli, Geoffrey J.; Galinsky, Adam D. (2008). “Negational categorization and intergroup behavior”
Sigmund Freud, Case Histories II
Carl G. Jung ed., Man and his Symbols
James W. Underhill: Ethnolinguistics and Cultural Concepts: truth, love, hate & war, (2012)
Leyens, Jacques-Philippe; Yzerbyt, Vincent; Schadron, Georges (1994). Stereotypes and Social Cognition.