Sarah Kliff at Wonkblog took the tongue in cheek approach to a study by researchers from the Univ. of Illinois and Univ. of Pennsylvania printed in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (I love their swimsuit issue) called Evidence for a Dispositional Attitude, its Measurement, and its Consequences in which the researchers tried to determine if some people are just more inclined to hate things, anything.
They wanted to figure out if people tended to like or dislike things in general. This was dubbed the individual’s dispositional attitude or, more simply put, checked for whether they were a hater who pretty much hates on everything that comes across their path.
Haven’t we all met people like that? People that are just negative. We joke about someone being negative by calling them the “Russian judge” harking back to the Olympics and the Russian tendency to downgrade the performance of anybody not Russian (to be fair, they did at least like Russians). Saying someone has a “dispositional attitude” is the proper way of calling them the “Russian judge” or more commonly, “a disagreeable fuckwit.” The stereotype is the sour old person, or in other words – the Tea Party. But I’ve met young people too that are just difficult and negative (often depressive too, but that’s a different, although not unrelated thing). I don’t think it’s really surprising that the study showed that yeah, some people tend to be more likely to like and some to dislike. That they’re not objective about it, literally, whatever they’re being asked to judge, they tend to be Russian about it.
The study comprised asking groups of people their feelings about different unrelated things, including made up stuff.
To test out this theory, a team of psychologists asked study participants how they felt about a number of mundane and unrelated subjects that included (but was not limited to) architecture, health care, crossword puzzles, taxidermy and Japan.
With the hater test verified and known haters identified, researchers asked their participants to read about the “Monahan LPI-800 Compact 2/3-Cubic-Foot 700-Watt Microwave Oven.” This not a real microwave but one dreamt up by researchers to test how much people would hate it.
The haters, perhaps unsurprisingly, were much less enthused than those who had more positive attitudes about camping, Japan and the like. This was also true in a question about vaccines, where the likers were more likely to have a positive opinion about getting vaccine shots then the haters.
The concluding remarks of the study:
The present research introduced the concept of the dispositional attitude – an individual’s general tendency to like versus dislike stimuli. A corollary of dispositional attitudes is that an individual’s attitudes toward independent, ostensibly unrelated stimuli will be positively related. This pattern is surprising to the extent that prevailing attitude theories emphasize attitudes being determined by properties of the stimuli under evaluation and not the properties of the people evaluating the stimuli. The present research demonstrated that some people tend to like things, whereas others tend to dislike things, and a more thorough understanding of this tendency will lead to a more thorough understanding of the psychology of attitudes.
Isn’t it called prejudice? Some people are just prejudiced against, whatever – other people, things, ideas. If the prevailing understanding in psychological research is that people are fair and judge things fairly, based on objectivity, with an open mind and are just as likely to to like or dislike based on the stimuli, I could have saved them the grant money.
Some people are just difficult fuckwits, and they tend to be your parents.