Why Hatred Exists

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One topic I found particularly striking, is the quite recent research on hate. Hate is a controversial topic, but one that should not be ignored. With the attacks on 9/11, and all the terrible things that happen in the world, it is in our interest to understand why hatred exists. Much like love, we should be able to explain the extent and degrees of hatred, so that we can better understand the motives and actions of those who experience hatred.

One person to spearhead the theory of Hatred was Robert Sternberg, and quite simply there are three elements to hatred in varying degrees:

• Dislike of intimacy - not wanting to get close to people
• Passion - Literally despising people
• Commitment - Intent to harm or do something else to someone

A combination of these three provide a basic framework for differing types of hatred. Whether that is from Jihadists, Protestors, Terrorists, or otherwise; hatred can be basically explained by this theory.
hitlerpsych.jpegBut, as hate has been found to be a mostly learned behavior that means it can be unlearned. What do you think of Hatred in the sense of human nature? Is it a learned component of our lives, or is someone born with hatred? Can someone really learn to stop hating someone/something?

Three favorite blogs:
"Hollywood vs. Amnesia" - I really enjoyed the connection to pop culture and the role of amnesia as a plot device, because it made it that much more relevant and entertaining.
"Hypnobirthing, Does it Work???" - Seeing as I have no perspective on childbirth, this post gave me a little insight into the possible pseudoscience that can occur in this of all places.
"I remember nothing..." - I really love the false memory created of Bugs being at Disney, even though he was a Warner Brothers character, and the idea that we may fabricate memories more than we can remember.


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I think you've brought up some really interesting thoughts and questions. I for one definitely believe that hatred is a learned behavior. Nobody is born hating someone or with hateful feelings. As I continue to grow and learn in this society, it seems to me that a good portion of what we learn comes not only from our parents, but through out peers, authority figures (like school faculty and politicians), media, and the like. We are products of our environment, as the saying goes. Children learn to mirror behaviors and hatred is no different. Whether or not you "know" someone/something doesn't really seem to calculate in most of the time. For example, I grew up in a family where we were very open about our opinions, but my parents never discussed politics or religion in front of my brother and I. They wanted us to be able to make up our own minds about things and not be products of someone else's thoughts. I think that what my parents did for me is very important as I was able to grow and learn about what I wanted to learn about and what I chose to feel passionate about, whether or not my family necessarily felt the same way or agreed.

I agree with Corissa that hate likely has a strong environmental component to it. Most likely from the interpretation of the arousal we feel in situations with others.

Throughout history humans have had to regard other people as potential threats and that aggression was a necessary component for survival.

There is plenty of evidence that babies are born with many cognitive and emotional abilities but hating is not one of them.

It is certainly in our power to refrain from hating others and if kindness and altruism is universally endorsed by those around us, we are more likely to work out our differences with others rather than resorting to violence and revenge.

The problem is that we enjoy the high arousal that accompanies feelings of hate and scenes of violence.

People often learn to stop hating others. Victims of crimes often forgive the perpetrator, Nelson Mandella forgave his captors because continuing to hate them would have sustained the same evil in himself.

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This page contains a single entry by joh07995 published on November 6, 2011 11:58 PM.

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