Hate: Toward understanding its distinctive features across interpersonal and intergroup targets

Emotion. 2022 Feb;22(1):46-63. doi: 10.1037/emo0001056. Epub 2021 Dec 30.


Is hate fundamentally different from other negative emotions? Despite a fair amount of theorizing about hate, there is little empirical evidence that helps to answer this basic question. The present research examines how people construe interpersonal and intergroup hate and provides an empirical analysis of how hate is conceptually different from dislike, anger, contempt, and disgust. In five preregistered studies, using exploratory (Pilot Study) and confirmatory (Studies 1, and 2a through 2c) within-subjects designs, we asked adult participants in the United States (Ntotal = 1,074) to describe examples of their interpersonal and intergroup targets of hate, dislike, anger, contempt, and disgust. We assessed their subjective experiences of each emotion by measuring the associated intensity, duration, arousal, valence, perceived threats, and action tendencies. Across studies, results revealed that participants feel consistently more emotionally aroused, personally threatened, and inclined toward attack-oriented behaviors when experiencing hate as compared with dislike, anger, contempt and disgust toward interpersonal targets. At the intergroup level, results revealed that participants experience hate as more arousing than the three moral emotions, more intense than dislike, anger and contempt, and feel more inclined toward attack-oriented behaviors than when they feel dislike and contempt. Results are in line with a general pattern of increasing differentiation suggesting that hate is conceptually closer to disgust and contempt than to anger and dislike. We discuss the specific differences and similarities between hate and these emotions across targets and their implications for future research on hate and negative emotions. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anger
  • Disgust*
  • Emotions
  • Hate*
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects