How do you define hate?

By: Alia Hoyt

Types of Hate

A Klansman at a white power rally in Skokie, Ill., in 2000
Tim Boyle/Newsmakers/Getty Images

Much like love, hatred is often blind, making human beings prone to believe things that simply are not true. Sadly, too many of us fall victim to this reality, resulting in feelings of animosity and prejudice with little or nothing to back it up. This blind hatred often has to do with race, religion, gender, politics or sexual orientation. As such, it has wreaked havoc on the world for centuries and will probably continue to do so for many more. Below are some examples of the different ways hatred manifests itself:

Racism: Racism is characterized by racial prejudice or discrimination. To narrow it down a bit, prejudice is defined by Merriam-Webster as "an irrational attitude of hostility directed toward an individual, a group, a race or their supposed characteristics." This hostility has been known over the years to lead to some pretty heinous errors in human judgment, including the slave trade, racial profiling and countless hate crimes. Interestingly enough, it does not appear that humans are hardwired to hate based on skin color.


Hatred is believed to be a learned emotion, and recent studies have shown that racism is also learned, rather than innate. When ancient people adopted the "us vs. them" theory, they were being territorial, rather than racist because they probably never saw people who looked different from them. Many psychologists believe that, although people do classify others based on race, they are more likely to mentally classify them based on age and gender. According to author Michael Shermer, who wrote The Science of Good and Evil, if all humans had the same skin color we would find a new way to divide groups up and perpetuate the "one of us" or "one of them" habit.

Religious and politically-based hatred: If you need further proof that humans don't require differing skin colors to find fault with each other, simply look to the many religious and political wars that have occurred throughout history. Protestants and Catholics, members of two religions that promote peace and love, have fought bloody wars. We know that two branches of the Maori tribe in New Zealand completely exterminated or forced into slavery the similarly named Moriori tribe because they wanted the Moriori's land. Terrorist attacks are almost always related to political arguments, religious disagreements or both. Religious and politically motivated atrocities have traditionally been inspired by greed, envy and fear.

Hatred based on sexual orientation: The decision to come out of the closet is usually a very difficult one that is not made easier by rampant homophobia that persists in today's society. According to the American Psychological Association homosexuality and bisexuality are often subject to social stigmas such as prejudice, violence and discrimination.

It's important to remember that hatred can be a strong word in some circumstances as it relates to these issues. For example, it is possible to be disapproving or intolerant of others of a different race or orientation without proclaiming to hate them.