Hatred is a relatively stable feeling of intense dislike for another person, entity, or group.

What is Hatred?

Hatred is distinct from short-lived feelings such as anger and disgust. While feelings such as dislike may only manifest briefly and mildly, contempt is a form of active, ongoing dislike that often uses up significant emotional energy in the person feeling hatred. When people experience hatred for another person, they often spend much of their time fixating on their anger, contempt, or dislike of the other person.

A common theme in hatred is a complete negation of the humanity of the other person or an inability to believe that the other person has any redeeming qualities or any worth. Common examples of hatred might include:

  • The extremely strong emotions people feel when going through a divorce or breakup
  • The feelings some crime victims feel toward their perpetrators, as well as the feelings attackers sometimes feel toward their victims
  • Feelings of racism, sexism, homophobia, and other oppressive philosophies directed at groups or categories of people

Psychology and Hatred

Hatred can have serious, long-lasting psychological effects both on the person experiencing hate and on his/her target. People often feel hate when they feel weak, victimized, or betrayed, and this form of hate can result in feelings of exhaustion, sadness, chronic rage, and even depression and anxiety. Some people who feel feelings of hatred want to eliminate their feelings but do not know how, while others deliberately feed the hatred as a form of self-protection.

Hatred can also contribute to serious social consequences such as hate crimes, discrimination, and violence. Throughout history, acts such as the Holocaust, the abuse of American Indians, and the enslavement of African-Americans have all been partially motivated by hatred. When hatred leads to oppression of others, it can exact a serious psychological toll on victims, and some victims of hatred may be murdered, abused, or otherwise harmed.


  1. Gaylin, W. (2003). Hatred: The psychological descent into violence. New York, NY: Public Affairs.
  2. Harrington, E. R. (2004, March 20). The social psychology of hatred [.PDF]. Spokane: Conference to Establish the Field of Hate Studies.

Last Updated: 08-7-2015

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