Hateful People May Excel In The Few Activities They Tend To Perform
June 20, 2014

Hateful People May Excel In The Few Activities They Tend To Perform

Alan McStravick for www.redorbit.com - Your Universe online

The team behind figuring out why “haters gonna hate” are building on their research that came out last year based around the key factor of positive versus negative dispositional attitudes. Last year's study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, explained how the difference between a 'hater' and a 'liker' has everything to do with whether or not that person views the world and things that happen in it positively or negatively.

Justin Hepler of the Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Dolores Albarracín, PhD, with the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania have managed, with their new study, to find a silver lining for being a hater. The results of this most recent study have been published in the journal Social Psychology.

It seems that individuals with positive dispositional attitudes are far more likely to engage in multiple activities through their week. By comparison, those with negative dispositional attitudes find less enjoyment in things overall and therefore restrict their weekly activities to a more limited selection.

Their article, “Liking more means doing more: Dispositional attitudes predict patterns of general action,” was based on two individual studies where participants reported all of their activities over a one-week period and also completed a measure of their dispositional attitudes.

While there were no major differences in the actual activities enjoyed by both haters and likers, the hater tended to spend more time on fewer activities while the liker was more apt to flit from one activity to another, finding enjoyment in a broader range of available choices. This, say the researchers, could be interpreted as a check in the plus column for the haters, as it means they have a higher ability to focus on the small number of things they actually enjoy doing.

Speaking to the motivations of likers, the researchers stated, “The present results demonstrate that patterns of general action may occur for reasons other than the desire to be active versus inactive,” Continuing they said, “Indeed, some people may be more active than others not because they want to be active per se, but because they identify a large number of specific behaviors in which they want to engage.”

These new findings, say Hepler and Albarracín, could be used to gain insight into the understanding of development with regard to skills and expertise. Likers, with their open and accepting attitude, would find themselves being only somewhat skilled at many different tasks. Conversely, haters are able to develop a higher skill level at the limited number of tasks they actually enjoy. With further study, both Hepler and Albarracín believe their future work will confirm this hypothesis.

The researchers also believe the above pattern could be relevant to attentional control. As an example, they claim that the likers might be attracted to engaging in a plethora of activity due to difficulty sustaining attention on any one task. This could be due to the fact that so many interesting and distracting opportunities present themselves in their environment.

The biggest irony in this hypothesis could play out as an incredible benefit to being a hater. Their general dislike for so many different tasks means their attentional control could be improved doing the few things they actually do enjoy.