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Bill Matthies

CEO, Coyote Insight, LLC

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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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  • 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: ...an 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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