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The Experience

We asked participants in the US to anonymously describe their own experiences of feeling each of these negative emotions, either toward an individual or a group.

They rated the emotional intensity and duration of each experience, how threatening they perceived the individual or group to be, and other dimensions of the experience.

Under the condition of anonymity, most people openly described individuals and groups they hate – often with a cathartic level of detail – suggesting that experiencing hate is more frequent in people’s lives than we might imagine.

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A Distinct Feeling

People also perceived hated individuals as more threatening to them personally than individuals toward whom they felt other negative emotions.

These findings suggest that hate is a distinct feeling, but also that it shares some features with the other emotions, especially with contempt and...

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Goal-Oriented Mechanisms

Negative emotions are thought to have evolved as goal-oriented mechanisms that help individuals to coordinate their physiological, cognitive and behavioural systems for dealing with different threats.

Dislike is a broad negative affective state that guides people’s preferences.

When...

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Differences

Although hate, too, is a negative affective state, it implies that one really wants the other person out of one’s life completely (as in the case of John, who wishes his coworker would disappear), and might be willing to take steps to make that happen.

When we compare hate with anger, conte...

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Cristhian A Martínezis

A clearer conceptualisation of hate might also, by extension, contribute to a better understanding of related concepts such as hate speech or hate crime, providing tools for legal actions or anti-hate initiatives. There is much more to learn about this strong negative emotion, but we are developi...

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Moral Beliefs

This could indicate that at least part of what people find particularly aversive about their hate targets is the perception that those individuals or groups endorse the opposite of what they believe is fair, noble and right, or their idea of what is a good life or a good society.

These beli...

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The Hate's Targets

So, what is it that people find so threatening about the targets of their hate?

In a set of studies currently under review, we tested whether hate was triggered to a higher degree by threats to people’s resources and goals or by threats to their values and worldviews.

We found that ...

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Hate is a Heavy Subject

What does it mean to say that someone like John hates his coworker, rather than just disliking or feeling contempt for him?

People claim to ‘hate’ all sorts of things in their daily lives: drama, traffic jams, math, broccoli, Mondays. But if they are asked about other people, especially sp...

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Key Findings

Our key finding is that, across the different dimensions, hate seems most distinct from dislike and anger, somewhat less distinct from contempt, and least distinct from disgust.

For instance, compared with dislike, anger or contempt (not disgust), participants rated their experiences of ha...

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Hate's Goal

For example, if somebody lights a cigarette in a non-smoking area, people around might get angry, and their overt expression of anger (via direct remarks or body language) could induce the smoker to put out the cigarette or leave.

However, unlike anger, hate seems to be aimed not at the ta...

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Policymakers's Efforts

For instance, political ideologies that capitalise on identity threats, or on the supposedly evil character of certain groups, might be instilling much more than anger among followers – sowing the seeds for long-term aggression and fostering social division.

Policymakers who are conscious ...

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A Stronger Reaction

When people feel hate, however, the targets are not just perceived as inferior, immoral or undesirable, although they might be perceived as all of these.

There is something else, something about them that motivates an especially strong reaction, to the point of wanting to eliminate them ph...

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Group's Disposition

That is likely one reason why people tend to experience hate for significantly longer periods of time than anger, which often dissipates relatively quickly once the unwanted behaviours cease.

Contempt and disgust are, like hate, focused on an individual’s or group’s disposition.

Cont...

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An Emotion, an Attitude, a Sentiment?

Currently, there is no consensus among scholars about hate’s nature. Hate has been described widely as an emotion, but also as an attitude or a sentiment.

Some scholars think that hate is an extreme version of anger or dislike; some describe hate as a blend of emotions such as anger, conte...

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A Series of Studies

We also know that people can hate close individuals such as family members, friends or romantic partners. 

Still, there is a lack of empirical research examining hate’s distinctive features, partly because studying hate is methodologically difficult and research ethics boards are not very h...

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Moral Differences

 While these disagreements could be present to some degree when people feel emotions such as contempt and disgust (helping to explain their closeness to hate), when people feel hate, these moral differences might be taken as personal threats, based on the importance of people’s values and beliefs...

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The Pleasure of Hate

The Pleasure of Hate

Imagine John, an honest employee whose colleague is a bigot and a harasser of women. From their first interaction, John didn’t like the way his coworker made inappropriate jokes.

He recently called John ‘too soft’ after John declined his proposal to steal from their company to make some ‘e...

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Intense and Enduring

What we do know is that hate is intense and enduring, and it seems to be based on a view of its targets as essentially bad and threatening.

For example, when the Hutus slaughtered the Tutsis in the Rwanda genocide of 1994, the hate they experienced appears to have been based on the percept...

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