Bill Matthies

CEO, Coyote Insight, LLC

This conversation is closed.

Do humans find it easier to hate than to love?

Reading the paper this morning, which included the usual stories of war and personal violence that occur all over the world, I wondered if humans are more inclined to hate, disagree, dislike, fight, etc., than we are the opposite.

Whatever you think are we changing, getting better or worse, or are we pretty much what we've always been?

Closing Statement from Bill Matthies

Thanks to all of you who participated in this discussion. This is one of those questions where no clear answer is likely, not at least one we'll all agree on, and I enjoyed reading opinions I hadn't considered previously.

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    W. Ying

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    Dec 6 2012: It is so.
    It is one of our necessary instincts for survival.

    We survive relying on SYMBIOSIS or love.
    However, for our safety, we have to suppose that anyone we first confront is very probably our enemy or predator.


    (For SYMBIOSIS see the 1st article, points 1-8, at
  • Dec 5 2012: As is with all things, words are conceptual and connotative, especially emotional descriptors such as love and hate. Although I don't have any research to backup my opinion, if I reason it out then there are several reason as to why I think it is easier for a person to hate than it is to love.

    Hate, as a concept that includes process and situational evaluation, characterizes itself by other words; hate can arguably come about when a person has a relationship of contention with a thing (that thing being animate or inanimate). It is far easier to disagree on a basis of irrationality, and though this is merely conjecture, the level of power that the word "hate" carries might imply a necessary level of irrationality. If a person were to have a relationship of contention but with a basis of reason, logic, and an arguable opinion as a basis, then rather than "hate" it might be more accurate to describe that person's feeling "dislike" or "strong dislike".

    Love, in contrast, carries with it characteristics of acceptance (though not necessarily whole acceptance), and it is far harder to accept everything, or even most things, about the other(thing). By my reasoning, love is much harder to accomplish, and like Mike mentioned through his quoting of Lincoln, it is impossible to love/hate everyone all of the time. On a micro scale the same can be said about individual persons or things.

    I think that the trend has been changing where people are more accepting of each other. We might not love each other, but we at least get along. The articles and news broadcasts that you are seeing are simply current events being communicated, and news is only inherently juicy when it's bad.
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      Dec 8 2012: Much to think about here Mitchell, thank you. I assume you believe that most people most times do not use reason and logic as a basis for their decisions to dislike or even hate someone? To what extent do you feel that reason and logic affect what and who we like and love?
      • Dec 9 2012: Thanks for commenting back Bill. I'm glad what I've said so far is interesting you.

        Regarding your question about reason and logic being our basis for love or hate, I think it's almost better to ask, do we determine or preferences by logic or reason?

        That, to me, seems to be the more intriguing question because it then becomes necessary to figure out how we grow our abilities to reason and logic. I don't think there would be many who read these forums that would disagree with me when I say that it's from experience that we gain logic and reason. You can see this by comparing the level of those abilities between an adult and a child. For example, when a child reaches out to something hot for the first time, they burn themselves. In the most conceptual way, they are burned because they don't have the experience of burning themselves before. If an adult is near something hot, they know from experience that they should not touch it with their bare hands because they have the experience necessary to reason that they will, logically, be burned.

        Now considering that, there are obviously other social factors that we become exposed to as we grow up that have a bearing on how we perceive the world around us. Parents tell their children that they should not have sex before marriage, and if they do, then to have safe sex. Laws tell us that we should wear our seat-belt when we're in a vehicle. There are many common sense things that we are told by different areas of society that help shape us into responsible people, but there are also a lot of things that do not make sense and in fact have a strong detrimental bearing about how we interpret people and things.

        As much as anybody would like to tell themselves, we're judgmental creatures. It's in our nature, and one of the very first sense that we use to make a judgement about something is our sight. To say from that initial sightful experience that we don't like someone is wrong, but we can usually make (second part)...
      • Dec 9 2012: educated guess about what sort of person they might be. It's a survival instinct and it's how we choose our friends, acquaintances, and lovers. When we talk about logic and reasoning, however, it's important for anybody deciding on another person's first impression to hold back on some of their judgments, because we could quite definitely be wrong about them. It's because of this that logic and reasoning is important, and also why judging is a double edged sword.
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    Dec 2 2012: Hatred and fear get more media attention. Some people love much more easily and others hate more easily. I would guess there are many more of the former than the latter.
  • Dec 8 2012: "Love is a given, hatred is acquired"
    The history of humanity is all about gaining something, is it not ?
    I don't remember who, someone said : human history is a nightmare i want to awake from .

    Are we changing ? I don't know, but certainly we can and we'd better :)
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      Dec 8 2012: Hi Natasha,

      I think we're changing although the rate and direction of change is sometimes questionable. And likewise I think humanity is about gaining although what constitutes "gain" can be open to debate as well.

      Similar to the discussion I've had with Mr. Park, I wonder how you living in Ukraine might affect your perspective on change relative to mine living in the US or his living in Korea? Einstein taught us that the appearance of most everything is subject to where we are when we observe the thing or event. It would seem then that our perspective on "gains", "losses", "rates of change", etc., might differ as well for the same reason.

      Kind of like the old story about the three blind men each touching a different part of an elephant, coming up with very different descriptions of the animal based on what they touched.
      • Dec 8 2012: Hi Bill,
        Your analogy with the three blind men touching different parts of an elephant reminds me this
        " Only he who comprehends the whole can also comprehend a part "
        We can comprehend the whole in spite of a rational evidence to the contrary. This 'whole' is you or me and any of us, no matter what country we live in. The question should sound like this : are you changing ?
        Be that change you want to see , that will be enough.
        So... are YOU changing ?

        If you don't mind me asking : )
        Thank you !
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          Dec 9 2012: Hello natasha. The fact that you ask the question is proof that change is imminent. Thus the challenge of asking is not necessary. :) By the way, I like the way you think.
      • Dec 9 2012: "... the challenge of asking is not necessary."
        Agreed ! :)
        Sorry Bill , i shouldn't ask ... ignore my question.

        Thanks, Vincenzo !
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          Dec 9 2012: Hi Natasha

          Sorry for not getting back to you prior to you withdrawing your question. I have much less time for TED than I would like and so there are occasional gaps in my replies.

          I think your original question is fair. I didn't take it as part of a discussion to prove to me, you, or anyone else that I am or am not changing; only you asking me if I thought I was. No harm in that.

          I've done primary research regarding "change" with a representative sample of adults ages 18 to 70 living in the US. There is a significant minority who do not believe they are changing, and for all you knew I may be one of them. I am not.

          I believe we all change every every instant of our lives from the moment we are conceived until the moment we die, and arguably even after in the perceptions others have of us based on how we lived.

      • Dec 9 2012: "I believe we all change every every instant of our lives from the moment we are conceived until the moment we die ..."

        Sure we do, but it's ' nothing ever changes but the Same ' kind of change. Change of love/hate ratio suggests paradigm shift, i guess.
        I don't think we have millennia gently unfolding in front of us ; we are in 'phase transition', iow. there must be change in quality. What this world lacks of is consciousness or higher level of consciousness, which leads to love and compassion effortlessly and naturally ; the solution of our global problems will come with, i believe.
        I hope we are changing :)
        And ' are you changing ' question is not good not because it may be offensive, but because it's too complex and confusing. Quantum measurement problem is universal, i think , it's difficult to measure something we are a part of and we are part of everything
        ( change included )
        Thanks for responding, no need to apologize, i don't have much time for TED either :)
        Best to you !
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          Dec 9 2012: If by "Sure we do" you mean everyone knows we all change, at least in imperceptible ways, I assure you there are those who don't. And they are vocal about it as well.

          We've come off the original question but I've enjoyed the detour. The subject of change is of great interest to me and a good way for this conversation to end. Thanks Natasha.
      • Dec 9 2012: Was it the detour... ? :)
        We can't afford ' hate- comes- easier ' attitude any more. It's in the past and we should leave it there.
        I don't believe in politics and governments; the real change comes from within.
        And if what i think is happening, is happening it'd better speed up :)

        Thanks for the conversation, Bill !
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    Dec 7 2012: Hi Bill,
    I don't think hate is "easier" than love, because hate comes from fear, and I cannot imagine that living with fear is "easier".

    Regarding reading the paper and the "usual stories of war and personal violence..."

    We KNOW that sensationalism sells papers, so we know that the media may focus on that.....yes?
    In a comment on this thread, you say you read the paper so you can be informed. I agree with being informed, and I don't think it is necessary to read all the stories of war and violence to be adequately informed. I have not gotten a paper for many years, and don't watch much TV, except documentaries, public TV, etc. It only takes a couple minutes to check on-line to see what is happening in our world, and when/if I see something that I want to explore further, I may turn on the TV news, or explore further on-line.

    I believe it is proven that the human brain has expanded with evolution. Now we need to decide, as thinking, feeling, intelligent, evolving human beings, what information we want to put in there! What we focus on expands, and I prefer to focus on the beneficial changes that are happening in our world, AS WELL AS being informed.

    Our advanced communication systems provide an opportunity to connect all of us around the world, and if we use the technology in a beneficial way, we may be seeing a huge change in humanity. Some things need to come to the surface before we can deal with them....yes? We are uncovering corruption in politics, religions, business, etc., which has been happening throughout history. Corruption and abuse of human rights thrives in isolation. I perceive the fact that we are "seeing" these things now, is on the path to change, because the first step toward change, is awareness.
  • Dec 7 2012: Humans are getting worse in my opinion.

    In my case, I've grown up in rural area and the condition of the place where I lived was remarkably better rather than nowadays. People were more generous, patient than people these days, and at least polite and respectful to each other only 10 years ago. My mother used to tell me they even couldn't imagine the events such as weird murder, sexual assault, and any other crimes at that time, but the situation has changed until now.

    There have always been the good around us, but the rate of them is declining. As you know, the world is rapidly changing and people strive to survive and gain profits for themselves keeping pace with that, and they are more self-centered than before. This environmental aspects influence on people in a bad way, so people are getting worse, and vice versa... Here, vicious circle occurs...

    I am far from pessimist, but I am sure that we humans are getting worse.
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      Dec 7 2012: If you don't mind me asking, what country do you live in, and regardless, to what extent if at all do you feel the changes you've observed are the result of changes in your culture? Or we're you referring to changes elsewhere rather than where you grew up?
      • Dec 8 2012: Have you heard about Republic of Korea(South Korea), if you don't mind me asking? I live in Korea. As I know, people all over the world didn't know well about Korea only a few years ago. However, this country has had a high profile in recent years thanks to the incumbent president of USA. According to up-to-date articles, he talked about the education fervor that contributed to Korea's rapid economic development in recent decades. Oh, I feel sorry that I make a long-winded explanation.

        Anyway, there are big cities like Seoul or Pusan, which are major population centers in Korea, but the place where I grew up is totally different from them. I've grown up in rural area, which is sparsely populated and not developed well and cultured.

        Even so, I have more or less negative point of view toward the condition of this world and changes of people, because of the articles about unpleasant events, great and small, all over the world including this country I live.

        For instance, there have been the so called "Murder of Do not ask why." A guy walking along the street and hearing the laughter through a certain house felt like, 'Why the hell do they feel happy? I'm so distressed!' Without any rational reason, he murdered the whole family. It was just because he guessed he must be the unluckiest person alive and the world didn't care.
        Moreover, there were several shooting incidents around the world. I concluded that when people feel a sense of frustration and stressed, they don't put any limits on expressing those feelings anymore in distorted way and the wrong direction. I am grieved whenever I think of the victims then and there.
      • Dec 8 2012: Fortunately, the region where I lived has passed recent years quietly without any big events. People here are more interested in neighbors, generous than elsewhere and willing to help each other well. Besides, there is a ratio of seven elderly adults to three young people in this area, so it is good for adolescents to learn great wisdom such as how to be kind, polite, and considerate, etc. Therefore I was referring to changes elsewhere rather than where I grew up, strictly speaking.

        I am not so sure if I answered appropriately and relevantly. I hope I didn't offend you:)
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          Dec 8 2012: Yes I know Korea well but only a few cities including Seoul. I've done business there a number of times and my family vacationed there along with China and Japan some years ago.

          I believe there are more similarities than dissimilarities between populations. Some of your description of where you live could just as easily describe many small midwest towns in the US, in particular, "Fortunately, the region where I lived has passed recent years quietly without any big events. People here are more interested in neighbors, generous than elsewhere and willing to help each other well."

          Unfortunately too many people focus on differences overlooking similarities and common values. I wish it were more the other way.
  • Dec 6 2012: Hating, destruction, and negativity are easy and mankind has a disposition to sloth. Hence great endeavors, thinking , building, and invention are of the few, not the many. It takes effort to do well and be of benefit. It takes nothing to yield in abandon to appetite and pleasure , just an empty vessel with no reservations.
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    Dec 4 2012: The opposite of love is not hate but, indifference. Man has'nt had a natural and common enemy as adversary since prehistoric time. The common enemies of those times helped man to stay together, evolve, and become the top of the foodchain. Evolution has not left behind the ghosts that still reside within us at a biological level. These ghosts are the reason that we find it much easier to hate. We have no greater adversary than man himself. Hopefully, as time passes, science and education might help us rid of these destructive forces where ACCEPTANCE will replace both words, love and hate.
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      Dec 8 2012: Vincenzo, rereading your comment makes me wonder how the threats we represent to each other has affected us over time. When we had a real common enemy did we still find time to war with each other or was the threat so great we had no time for that?

      Ironically we can look to fairly recent history to see how new threats create unions where none existed before, the USSR and the Alies in WWII being an obvious example. And when the threat passes often so does the alliance, which, to me, is an indication of change going in many directions as opposed to being linear.
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        Dec 9 2012: Bill, the simplest way to answer your first question is, we are animals. As animals, squirmishes must have always happened to put in place the Alpha of the species. This is not because of hate but, a necessary solution for proper leadership. With proper leadership victory is possible. Was the threat so great?? Today as we sit in comfort we are constantly threatned by a chaotic Universe. We have always had threats and will probably always do. These threats come in different shapes... viral, biological, terrestrial just to name a few. On a positive note, I believe that overcoming these adversitiers has greatly contributed to the evolution of Human Intelligence.
        To further on the second part of your question/answer. Man beign egocentric in nature plus the cultural differences equal to non linear squirmishes that only common logic and scientific education is able to snuff out.
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    Dec 3 2012: I think we love and we hate. This is the reality of humanity. More songs have been written about love than about any other thing; and the 1st two highest grossing films of all time (Avatar,Titanic) have love-storylines.
    As far as news is concerned it is said that 'bad news is good news' and the 'bad things' are just reported (maybe embellished a little).

    As I've said, this is the real state of things. There is evil in the world, but there is good too.
    What we do as human beings is choose.
  • Dec 3 2012: IMO, this is a question of child development.

    In my experience, love comes to children very quickly and easily when raised by loving parents.

    I have no personal experience of children raised by hateful parents, but I expect that the same is true, that hate comes easily to children raised by hateful parents. I have read accounts of white people with deep seated prejudice against non-whites, an attitude that was handed down from parent to child. Even when such a person realizes that this attitude is wrong, it can be extremely difficult to change.

    In short, love and hate are natural behaviors. One is just as easy as the other. Who we love and hate are learned.

    Hating 'others' has been a constant part of our history. It has been such a big part that it might seem impossible to stop it. Some people believe that humans will always hate and fight. I don't think so. We can teach and spread the lessons of love and nonviolence. We can adopt an attitude that we are all part of one human tribe. The attitude of love will eventually prevail because it is more useful and also more pleasant.
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      Dec 3 2012: "So I would wonder why you bother to read about the violence and war."

      So I can vote as informed as possible, which is a relative thing I'm only partially successful doing.

      Eric Fromm's 1973 book "The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness" is a good place to start for anyone interested in an in-depth discussion of things relating to my question.

      Thanks for you response Mike.
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    Gail .

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    Dec 3 2012: Throughout almost the entirety of human existence, fear (and the aggression that it creates) was a survival strategy that we have learned. In the past few years, many are understanding that fear is an option that has untenable consequences. There is another way to deal with stressors, and it does not include fear or aggression.

    There is little sense in my going into it here because so many will vehemently disagree, but it comes with the awareness that we are not powerless victims even when faced with an angry/violent aggressor. Peace is a power until itself, and it can diffuse aggression.

    I believe that this newfound knowledge will grow in our culture because science that once laughed at the things that I believed are now studying "mind", and the results are so stunning that scientists are not sure what to make of it all.

    Fear creates a vicious circle. Experience fear, and the amygdala shuts down access to the frontal cortex. (Amygdala is the fear/anxiety center where short-term (irrational) decisions are made. The frontal cortex is the executive center where rational long-term decisions are made.) When one is in fear, cortisol is released. When one is in great fear, cortisol and adrenalin are released in such amounts as to be rather crippling and too often self-defeating.

    Remove the fear, and the amygdala shrinks while the frontal cortex thickens - and IQ increases by as much as 6 points (to date). Meditation is very efficient (and provably so) at removing the fear.

    I am confident that most of humankind will tire of the hate and distrust that our cultures insist that we accept as normal. It may be normal, but it is not necessary. There is a movement afloat of those who know this and it is in these people that I rest my faith.
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    Dec 3 2012: How about the second part of this question, "Whatever you think are we (humans) changing, getting better or worse, or are we pretty much what we've always been?"
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    Dec 3 2012: I think it completely depends upon the attitude of the people.
    People react differently to different situations they encounter.Some react in a positive way and some in a negative way.
    So,I can't be accurate with whether humans are much easier when it comes to hate than to love.
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    Dec 3 2012: destruction is easy. any idiot can break or destroy.

    creating is much more difficult. i believe it's the ultimate use of our energies.

    attitudes and emotions can be loosely grouped under those two headings - hate = destructive, love = constructive.

    many of us have not been shown how to channel our energy into creative and constructive pursuits plus, i think, some human beings choose the less difficult path.
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    Dec 3 2012: The hate is created by individuals who benefit from the hate.

    The world is getting less violent which seems less hateful. There is more communication and knowledge available so that people can discuss and assuage the hate.
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    Dec 2 2012: Hate is more useful to media outlets since it triggers our fight-or-flight instinct (i.e. X is dangerous!! Look out man!!). I don't know about anyone else, but most people I've met do not seem disposed toward hatred in general, with the exception of views they have been conditioned into accepting.