Study – Contempt can emotivate negative behavior
Sending a message that a person is bad and unresponsive to change is likely to engender a contemptuous response, according to this study. The researchers found that contempt has not been well studied, and is similar to anger, but differs in how it functions as an emotivational goal, how it impacts information processing, and how it impacts behavioral outcomes. Contempt tends to drive behaviors that socially exclude the target of the contempt.
In terms of the Integrative Client-Centered Model of legal counseling, as applied to counseling and relationships with non-clients (like negotiating), case outcomes will tend to increase when rejections such as contempt are avoided, minimized, or repaired if a rejection is subjectively perceived. Other research identifies how rejection drives aggression and conflict, is subjectively perceived, and is experienced in many forms. Contempt is one such form. Approaching people with the principles of Integrative Listening can help reduce perceptions of rejection. Principles such as being open and accepting, caring about all parties, maintaining curiosity, and working to stay in relationship are examples.
Contempt: Derogating Others While Keeping Calm
Agneta Fischer and Roger Giner-Sorolla
Emotion Review, January 21, 2016
While philosophers have discussed the emotion of contempt from antiquity to the present day, contempt has received less attention in psychological research. We review the defining features of contempt, both as a short-term emotion and as a more long-lasting sentiment. Contempt is similar to anger in that it may occur after (repeated) social or moral transgressions, but it differs from anger in its appraisals, actions, and emotivational goals. Unlike anger, contempt arises when a person’s or group’s character is appraised as bad and unresponsive to change, leading to attempts to socially exclude the target. We discuss associative, self-regulatory, and social distancing functions of contempt and present a dynamic social model of contempt versus anger.