Understanding the Psychology Behind Mean People

Understanding the Psychology Behind Mean People

Every person is unique in his own way. No two people have exactly the same characteristics or personality. There are plenty of nice people in the world; but sadly, there are also a lot of mean people. Why are there mean people, anyway? What has made them act and speak the way they do?

Well, it is quite easy to figure out the motivations of people getting along with others. Humans are social beings that need to have positive relationships. Society will not exist if people do not get along and cooperate with one another. Nevertheless, some people stay mean due to a number of reasons.

Positive distinctiveness, for instance, is one reason why some people are mean. According to the social identity theory, humans have a psychological need for positive distinctiveness. This means that they need to feel unique from other people in a positive manner. Such need extends to groups that they belong to.

Individuals tend to view their in-groups better than their out-groups. They display favoritism towards the members of their group. Because of this, people who are not part of the group are perceived as outcasts and not treated very well. This is especially true when they seem to challenge the identity of others.

According to researchers, individuals tend to boost their self-esteem when they are able to degrade people that are not part of their group. Conversely, the social comparison theory states that it is natural for people to compare themselves with other people. Such comparison can either make them feel better or worse about themselves.

Because humans generally want to feel good, they become prone to making downward comparisons. They look down on other people to feel better about themselves and boost their own self-esteem. Researchers also state that people become more negative towards their peers when they have been belittled or insulted.

According to a study that involved people being given fake feedback, people are more likely to demean others when they are insulted. In this study, a group of individuals was told they were unattractive while another group was told that they were attractive. The group who thought that they were unattractive rated others as less intelligent, less kind, and less attractive.

Classical projection is another possible reason why people are mean. According to Sigmund Freud,

A neurologist who discovered psychoanalysis, people tend to cope with their negative views about themselves by thinking that other people are worse than they are. For instance, if you feel dishonest, you may think that other people are more dishonest. Because of this, you will immediately feel better that someone is worse than you.

Furthermore, mean people may act the way they do because they feel that their egos are being threatened. Researchers have found that threatened self-esteem can drive so much aggression. So, it does not really matter if a human feel bad or good about himself in general.

What truly matters is that that person feels worse about himself than usual at that a threatened self-esteem can lead to aggressive behaviors. An example of this is when a person becomes insulted, he becomes likely to act obnoxious.

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