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From an Evolutionary Psychology perspective, what advantages would we get from being able to feel Hate towards another individual, thing, or event? Do we get a personal benefit of holding grudges, or perhaps the population does? This would be related to the question of "How long is it possible to hold grudges?". I haven't researched to what extent it is possible to pass on grudges to future generations, but, maybe, it is some sort of offshoot of passing knowledge from bad experiences?

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    $\begingroup$ One of the things that Evolutionary Psychology is criticized for is the presumption that all observed traits are selected for; that's not the case. See this Q&A on our site for Biology: biology.stackexchange.com/questions/35532/… Another is for the telling of just-so stories; just because you can tell a story about why a trait evolved doesn't mean it had anything to do with that. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 8 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ I can also tell a just-so story about Hate not evolving as a specific trait: perhaps the underlying trait is simply a system for identifying people who have caused you harm in the past and activating defenses to avoid that further harm, which might include avoiding the harm or fighting back against the person causing harm. "Hate" is just a label for an extreme expression of that. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 8 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ One might distinguish here between things or phenomena disliked versus sought for eradication. Colloquially people might say they "hate" a particular food, but they usually are not in the business of eliminating that food from existence, nor necessarily denying others the option of eating it. In this respect, hate proper would seem to refer to things or phenomena deemed intrinsically unworthy, or "there's not enough room for the both of us" type thinking. The "benefit" would presumably be terraforming, or changing the future to support one's own kind, at the expense of another. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Apr 1 at 15:48

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The primary evolutionary advantage of hate is self preservation. Typically, hate is experienced when the target stimulus (i.e., a person, season, ideology, thing, etc.) threatens one's fundamental existence or way of life, conflicts with core beliefs or cognitive schemas, threatens the exposure of weaknesses or defenses, or interferes with goal achievement. Hate is particularly beneficial from an evolutionary perspective because it establishes a long or short-term warning or avoidance against things that are not in themselves particularly threatening (i.e., a spouse, family member, child, etc.). For example, when a stimulus is threatening by nature (i.e., wasp, viper, a contagion, etc.) our evolutionary reaction is fear or disgust which increases our survival chance through fight, flight, or avoidance strategies. However, we are not designed to be threatened by certain things, such as humans, unless their immediate verbal/nonverbal behaviors are perceived as threatening. In this case, hate allows us to protect ourselves from things that do not present as existentially threatening but indeed can cause us psychological, emotional, social, or physical harm. It is worth noting that hate may be most useful for protecting ourselves from threatening information about ourselves, such as breaching our defenses.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting, so, in a sense, could I consider hate as related to 'lesser' forms of harm? Such as those that wouldn't be "terrifying"? $\endgroup$ Mar 12 at 23:17

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