Hate as Emotion and as Sentiment

One final (for now) word on why people hate. It’s from a relatively recent (August 2018) article in the journal Emotions by Agneta Fischer, Eran Haplerin, Daphna Canetti, and Alba Jasini. Here is the abstract from “Why We Hate”:

We offer a functional perspective on hate, showing that hate has a unique pattern of appraisals and action tendencies. Hate is based on perceptions of a stable, negative disposition of persons or groups. We hate persons and groups more because of who they are, than because of what they do. Hate has the goal to eliminate its target. Hate is especially significant at the intergroup level, where it turns already devalued groups into victims of hate. When shared among group members, hate can spread fast in conflict zones where people are exposed to hate-based violence, which further feeds their hate. Hate can be reassuring and self-protective, because its message is simple and helps confirming people’s belief in a just world.

The entire article can be accessed online for free, but here are some key quotations:

“In short, on the basis of preliminary evidence we propose that when individuals experience hate, they typically perceive their hate target as having malicious intentions and being immoral, which is accompanied by feelings of lack of control or powerlessness.”

“[O]ne of hate’s core characteristics is that it generally lasts longer than the event that initially evoked it. The enduring nature of hatred is based in the appraisals that are targeted at the fundamental nature of the hated group.”

“The two forms of hatred [the short term emotion and the long term sentiment] are related, yet distinct, and one fuels the occurrence and magnitude of the other.”

“We think that hatred can more easily go through a transformation from individual to group level than other negative emotions; some will even claim that it is the most ‘group-based’ emotion.”

“[An additional] aspect of hatred that makes it more susceptible to become an intergroup sentiment that spreads fast, is the fact that it can increase in the absence of any personal interaction between the hater and members of the hated group.”

Patrick H. Weems's photo.Above, a historic marker calling attention to the spot where Emmett Till’s body was removed from the river after he was murdered. Like many efforts to memorialize hate crimes, this one has been physically attacked by racists. But no one today can really hate Emmett Till in an interpersonal way. So how, decades after his death, does hate against him still circulate?

“From a leadership perspective, fine-tuning of the exact patterns of hatred is almost impossible; hence, hate rhetoric can backlash.”

“Hate seems particularly prone to spreading at this intergroup level because it helps us to defend ourselves by strengthening the ties with our ingroup and putting all the blame for insecurity and violence elsewhere. Because hate is based on the perception of a stable, malevolent disposition of the other person, haters perceive little room for constructive change, and therefore there seem only radical options left to act upon one’s hate.”

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