Why do people hate people?

3 Reasons Why People Hate You

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Why do people hate people? – Daisy, age 9, Lake Oswego, Oregon

Have you ever said “I hate you” to someone? What about using the “h-word” in casual conversation, like “I hate broccoli”? What are you really feeling when you say that you hate something or someone?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes the word “hate” as an “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.” All over the world, researchers like us are studying hate from disciplines like education, history, law, leadership, psychology, sociology and many others.

If you had a scary experience with thunderstorms, you might say that you hate thunderstorms. Maybe you have gotten very angry at something that happened at a particular place, so now you say you hate going there. Maybe someone said something hurtful to you, so you say you hate that person.

Understanding hate as an emotional response can help you recognize your feelings about something or someone and be curious about where those feelings are coming from. This awareness will give you time to gather more information and imagine the other person’s perspective.

So what is hate and why do people hate? There are many answers to these questions.

What hate isn’t

Hate, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, “does not mean rage, anger or general dislike.”

Sometimes people think they have to feel or believe a certain way about another person or group of people because of what they hear or see around them. For example, people might say they hate another person or group of people when what they really mean is that they don’t agree with them, don’t understand them or don’t like how they behave or the things they believe in.

View between the arm of a person with their hands on their hips, focusing on a child sitting at table with a glare

Do you hate this person, or are you angry, hurt or afraid?
Lourdes Balduque/Moment via Getty Images

It is easy to blame others for things you don’t believe or experiences you don’t like. Think about times you might have heard someone at school say they hate a classmate or a teacher. Could they have been angry, hurt or confused about something but used the word hate to explain or name how they were feeling?

When you don’t understand someone else, it can make you nervous and even afraid. Instead of being curious about each other’s unique experiences, people may judge others for being different – they may have a different skin color, practice a different religion, come from a different country, be older or younger, or use a wheelchair.

When people judge people as being less important or less human than themselves, that is a form of hatred.

What hate is

The U.S. Department of Justice defines hate as “bias against people or groups with specific characteristics that are defined…

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