The Psychology of People Who “Hate People”

By
September 27, 2016

You’ve most likely met someone who says that they “hate people,” “don’t like people,” “think people are stupid,” or some variant of that. Humans are social creatures, so how is it possible that some people “hate” all others? Do these people really mean what they say?

A week ago I was sitting outside the Westin San Antonio on the River Walk after a conference with three engaging folks. Someone mentioned that they did not like people, and we all agreed that generally, we did not like most people. An awkward silence ensued – if none of us liked “people,” what were we doing sitting around with people? Were we not enjoying the discussion and the company? I quickly made a point to say something to the effect of, “I don’t like most people, I should say that. Because I am enjoying sitting here with you all.” Everyone agreed, and we moved on with the conversation.

This discussion got me thinking though – of the four people in the discussion, all of us were educated and worked in areas that required working with others. I teach college and interact with students, other faculty, and staff all day long, not to mention the fact that I am married (to a person) and have friends (who are people). I realized that the statement “I don’t generally like other people” means something other than what the words represent (otherwise, what am I doing?).

After years of introspection, observation, and education in psychology, I have come to a conclusion. It’s not that we (myself included in this group) don’t like most other people. Instead, people who state this have very high expectations for other people. Realistic or not, these expectations guide their interactions with others. As you can imagine, most people (the ones we don’t like) don’t measure up to these high expectations.

What is it then that we are expecting? In all honesty, we are expecting a miracle – we want others to understand us, to recognize our moods and interact with us accordingly, to know what we believe to be appropriate for certain situations (and behave accordingly), to know what we’re interested in and discuss it intelligently with us (because we are knowledgeable about it, or at least believe we are), and to think about things in the same way that we do. With all these expectations, I literally cannot understand how it is that someone with these views DOES find people that they “like.” Thinking about myself (and others) in this way, I wonder, “How the hell do I have friends? How did I get married for God’s sake?” I think the answer to this comes in the development of these expectations.

As we grow up, our personalities are influenced by both genetics and our environment. We find certain likes and dislikes, or maybe we’re taught them; either way, we have them. We interact with others, and those interactions can be positive, negative, or somewhere in between (or different for each interaction). We got off into the world and inspect others based on what we have learned is “right.” We’re told by society and our parents that we’re supposed to have friends and people that like us (and vice versa). For the group of “people haters,” it is possible that their experiences with others were more negative than positive – they started off with high hopes for others (that were learned through childhood and adolescence), but found most others soundly “lacking” in meeting their expectations. They began to form a “schema” or mental representation that others do not meet their standards. This view isn’t conscious, we’re not aware that we have high standards and that others aren’t reaching them. But we’re aware that “something’s not right.” That something translates into a view that “I cannot expect others to meet my expectations,” which could then translate into “I don’t like most people.”

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Tags: aloneHATE PEOPLEhuman behaviorintrovertpsychology

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  • Not sure I learned much from this article, but sadly I do kinda hate people. I do have high-ish expectations (good grammar, modest dress); however, I will say I learned something this year. I've noticed a correlation between hating others and hating myself. When I am not so hard on myself, it seems easier to love others as they are. We all have our faults and are quite human.

  • I have found that a lot of people who hate other people as a rule actually are unhappy with themselves. They seem to have a idea in their head of what life should be and can't accept it for what it is. They throw a blanket statement out there "I hate people" instead of looking at it on an individual basis. There are good people and not so good people... there are people I don't like and people I do like and there are people we click with and people we don't. This is nothing new! Many of the "people haters" that I have met are just not satisfied with their own behaviors and this is an easy out. This gives them an excuse to act out and "give up" on others. I see it as a cop out or a lack of ability to cope in a world that is full of injustice. It is easier for these people to write everyone off and be bitter than to make an effort to better their lives and the lives of others. They cling to an expectation that even they can't meet because it is not realistic. I see it as a lack of empathy and total self absorption yet some of these "people haters" are my friends. I can only imagine that I am and will be hated by many as well as loved by many!

    • Understood, as I fall more into that category than any other and can understand how hard it can be. However, seeking out a way to heel and find joy is very important. Giving up or hating everyone is not going to make it any better. It can turn into a hopeless circle and instead of looking for good in people the decision has been made that they are worthy of hate, devoid of goodness or joy.

    • I agree with you, but, if I may be so bold as to say that, yes there are people who definetly lack empathy, but there are some who have too much empathy. Every complaint, each sad story they hear, they feel in some way; given what a negative and complaint ridden culture we live in, well, these people are like emotional open wounds, walking around in a world of knives, without even a band-aid for protection.

  • I've always been a loner type and a don't like most people person . I'm not judgmental and don't really have high standards , I have however worked in customer service retail for over 26yrs I think one Christmas season in this environment will do it for most !

  • When I say I Don't like most people it will Never change. Those Ideals or Expectations are that you don't abuse animals for personal gain let alone at all. you don't steal, cheat, lie, rape, manipulate or otherwise seek to harm others. You think about more than Just your own selfish wants. You don't build yourself up off of kicking those below you. You don't go rioting and destroying your town because a thug was killed-for which the only thing that matters to you is their Color and not the content of their character. Not to abuse or rape children or need I add animals. Not to Use other people. And most of all not to be silent when others Do pull this crap. I mean seriously, those expectations aught to be Everyones Normal Expectations of them selves and others. I Love Good People! but I don't like how many people are just scum.

  • God whatever. 90% are trash (until I'm proven wrong in which event yay.)
    Thing is it feels so excellent to have no expectation and laugh at their expenses because you live the way you love in every way which apparently royally pisses them off. /I mean puts them in a holy rage./ It's RICH to have these secrets in the palm of your hand.I only feel miserable when I think of family. Those are faces I dream of breaking physically with my fists. <3

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