- Contempt: a hot feeling hidden under a cold jacket
- Book title
- Re-constructing emotional spaces: from experience to regulation
- Pages (from-to)
- Prague: Prague College of Psychosocial Studies Press
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Contempt is the feeling when one judges another person as an inferior human being, and is typically expressed through social exclusion. Feeling contempt thus implies rejecting others, considering others as unworthy of one’s attention. Contempt is often mixed with other emotions, such as anger,
hatred, or socio-moral disgust. Often therefore, the expression of contempt can coincide with feelings of revenge or even attempts to attack the other person. I think contempt is a moral emotion, in that it is often elicited in response to transgressions that are considered as amoral. These include behaviors such as betrayal, theft, (sexual) violence, which go against our moral standards and therefore deserve only contempt. These types of transgressions are too awful to criticize, and therefore can only lead to rejection or exclusion. Although we may feel contempt towards people we hardly know, contempt often develops out of anger, especially when we have been confronted with others or other groups who have not changed their behavior in reaction to our anger. Anger therefore does not seem functional, and contempt emerges as a way of coping with the lack of influence or control we have over the other.
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