Contempt: Wikis

Advertisements
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Contempt is an intense feeling or attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless—it is similar to scorn. Contempt is also defined as the state of being despised or dishonored; disgrace, and an open disrespect or willful disobedience of the authority of a court of law or legislative body.[1] One example of contempt could be seen in the character Ebenezer Scrooge from the Charles Dickens' book A Christmas Carol. Scrooge was cold hearted, hating everything about Christmas and looked down upon everyone around him, especially the poor. The word originated in 1393, from the Latin word contemptus meaning “scorn.” It is the past participle of contemnere and from com- intens. prefix + temnere “to slight, scorn.” The origin is uncertain. Contemptuous appeared in 1529.[2]

Robert C. Solomon places contempt on the same continuum as resentment and anger, and he argues that the differences between the three emotions are that resentment is directed toward a higher status individual; anger is directed toward an equal status individual; and contempt is directed toward a lower status individual.[3] Contempt is often brought about by a combination of anger and disgust.[4] [5]

Contents

Characteristics

Contempt has five ugly features. [6] Contempt requires a judgment concerning the appearance or standing of the object of contempt. In particular, contempt involves the judgment that, because of some moral or personal failing or defect, the contemned person has compromised his or her standing vis-à-vis an interpersonal standard that the contemnor treats as important. This may have not been done deliberately but by a lack of status. This lack of status may cause the contemptuous to classify the object of contempt as utterly worthless, or as not fully meeting a particular interpersonal standard. Therefore, contempt is a response to a perceived failure to meet an interpersonal standard. Contempt is also a particular way of regarding or attending to the object of contempt, and this form of regard has an unpleasant effective element. However, contempt may be experienced as a highly visceral emotion similar to disgust, or as cool disregard.

Contempt has a certain comparative element. David Hume in his studies of contempt suggests that contempt essentially requires apprehending the “bad qualities” of someone “as they really are” while simultaneously making a comparison between this person and ourselves. Because of this reflexive element, contempt also involves what we might term a “positive self-feeling” of the contemptuous. A characteristic of contempt is the psychological withdrawal or distance one typically feels regarding the object of one’s contempt. This psychological distancing is an essential way of expressing one’s nonidentification with the object of one’s contempt and it precludes sympathetic identification with the object of contempt. Contempt for a person involves a way of negatively and comparatively regarding or attending to someone who has not fully lived up to an interpersonal standard that the person extending contempt thinks is important. This form of regard constitutes a psychological withdrawal from the object of contempt.

Although contempt may not be a primary emotion as seen in Robert Plutchik’s color wheel-like circumplex model of emotions, the argument for whether or not contempt is a ‘basic’ emotion (universally recognized) has been disputed and disagreed on for years. Paul Ekman, a widely recognized psychologist, found six emotions that were universally recognized: anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise. Findings on contempt are less clear, though there is at least some preliminary evidence that this emotion and its expression are universally recognized.[7] Another study by Ekman and Karl G. Heider shows evidence for universality in a study across cultures in which the level of agreement about a contempt expression compared to the other six basic emotions (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise) was greater than 75% in all samples.[8]

The coping behaviors for contempt are neither labeled as withdrawal or approach (can be either). However, the main response of contempt lies within “publicized expression of low regard for the objects held in contempt” (Miller, C.H., 2008). By this reasoning, a person holding contempt would not have the urge to openly confront the person with whom they are at odds with, nor would they themselves try to remove the object of contempt; rather, one who holds contempt would have the tendency to hold the view that others should remove the object of contempt, or hold the view that the object of contempt should remove itself. So while one would make their feelings known to others, the person with contempt would not necessarily want to directly deal with the situation at hand. One who is experiencing contempt would exhibit negative affective behaviors that may be labeled as “cold” – this simply meaning that one who is experiencing the emotion of contempt would tend to alienate those responsible.[9]

Advertisements

Facial expressions

Many research experiments have been conducted to decide if contempt is recognizable across cultures and some researchers believe contempt is too closely related to the emotion disgust. Even Darwin (1872) noted that contempt shares with sociomoral disgust several common features and one can be mistaken for the other. Both contempt and disgust can fit into the hostility triad, sharing the disapproval of others, and can also be included in the ‘CAD triad’ as they exhibit the common theme of violation of moral ethics.[10] Ekman and Friesen’s study that gave the first recorded percentages of more than 75% of all their samples distinguishing contempt over the other basic six emotions. Ekman and Friesen found the facial expression that universally signals contempt—a tightening and slight raising of the lip corner, primarily on one side of the face. They noted that contempt is the only emotion expressed asymetrically. [11]

And although Ekman and Friesen were the ones who recognized that facial expression as the expression that signaled contempt, it was actually Darwin who first recognized the facial expression for this emotion. Darwin was even more detailed in his description of the facial expressions that occur when contempt is being portrayed. He describes that the nose may be slightly turned up, which apparently follows from the turning up of the upper lip; or the movement may be abbreviated into a mere wrinkling of the nose.[12]

Cultural contexts

Ekman and Friesen (1986) identified a specific facial expression that observers in each of 10 cultures, both Western and non-Western, agreed signaled contempt.” In this study, citizens of West Sumatra, Indonesia, were given photos of American, Japanese, and Indonesian peoples. Their ability to classify some facial expressions as contempt versus the other categorical emotions of anger, disgust, happiness, sadness, fear, or surprise (with the level of agreement equating to 75%) shows that generally, across cultures, contempt is universally understood.[13] “An expression in which the corner of the lip is tightened and raised slightly on one side of the face (or much more strongly on one side than the other) signaled contempt.” This study showed that contempt, as well as the outward expression of contempt, can be pointed out across Western and Non-Western peoples when contrasted with other primary emotions.[14]

Another study by Ekman, Sorenson, and Friesen, published in 1969, studied “Pan-Cultural Elements in Facial Displays of Emotion.” Their findings suggest “that the pan-cultural element in facial displays of emotion is the association between facial muscular movements and discrete primary emotions, although cultures may still differ in what evokes an emotion, in rules for controlling the display of emotion, and in behavioral consequences.”[15] Although some cultures differ in terms of how emotions are learned, taught and controlled, Ekman, Sorenson, and Friesen have found that cross culturally, emotions can be recognized similarly.[16]

Contempt may frequently be one of the emotions experienced by privileged social classes or castes against the oppressed class or caste.

In marriage

Carstensen, Gottman, and Levenson (1995) found that “Negative emotional behavior, such as expressed anger, sadness, contempt, and other negative emotions, appears to be the best discriminator between satisfied and dissatisfied marriages”. This is a commonly agreed with idea, that contempt can play a large role in bringing down relationships. This is likely due to its destructive nature similar in some ways to greed or a grudge. Carstensen, Gottman, and Levenson (1995) also discovered that “In terms of speaker behaviors, wives were coded as showing more total emotion, negative emotion, anger, joy, contempt, whining, and sadness.” This supports the stereotype that women express more emotion than men both in general and in relationships. It also supports the idea that men are less expressive than women and tend to be more defensive minded in conversations.[17]

In the book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking author Malcolm Gladwell discusses John Gottman's theories of how to predict which couples will stay married. Gottman's theory states that there are four major emotional reactions that are destructive to a marriage: defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism, and contempt. Among these four, Gottman considers contempt the most important of them all. [18]

References

  1. ^ (2000). The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Ed. Houghton Mifflin Company.
  2. ^ Contempt. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved April 20, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: [1]
  3. ^ Solomon R.C. (1993). The Passions: Emotions and the Meaning of Life. Hackett Publishing.
  4. ^ Miller, C. H. (2008). How dare you! A measure of indignation. Manuscript in preparation, University of Oklahoma.
  5. ^ Contempt is not a primary emotion; Robert Plutchik’s circumplex model asserts that contempt is a mixture of two of the primary emotions anger and disgust.
  6. ^ Bell, M. (2005). A Woman’s Scorn: Toward a Feminist Defense of Contempt as a Moral Emotion. Hypatia, 20.4, 80-93.
  7. ^ Ekman, P. & Friesen, W. V (1969). The repertoire of nonverbal behavior: Categories, origins, usage, and encoding. Semiotica, 1, 49–98.
  8. ^ Ekman, P & Heider, K.G. (1988). The Universality of Contempt Expression: A Replication. Motivation and Emotion, 12, 303-308.
  9. ^ Miller, C. H. (2008). How dare you! A measure of indignation. Manuscript in preparation, University of Oklahoma.
  10. ^ Sambataro, F. et al. (2006). Preferential Responses in Amygdala and Insula During Presentation of Facial Contempt and Disgust. European Journal of Neuroscience, 24, 2355-2362.
  11. ^ Ekman, P & Friesen, K.G. (1988). The Universality of Contempt Expression: A Replication. Motivation and Emotion, 12, 303-308.
  12. ^ Izard, C.E. & Haynes, O.M. (1988). On the Form and Universality of the Contempt Expression: A Challenge to Ekman and Friesen’s Claim of Discovery. Motivation and Emotion,due to the fact of the law of gravity 12.1, 1-16.
  13. ^ Ekman, P., & Heider, K. G. (1988). The Universality of a Contempt Expression: A Replication. Motivation and Emotion, 12(3), 303-308. Retrieved April, 2008, from [2]
  14. ^ Ekman, P., & Heider, K. G. (1988). The Universality of a Contempt Expression: A Replication. Motivation and Emotion, 12(3), 303-308. Retrieved April, 2008, from [3]
  15. ^ Ekman, P., Sorenson, R. E., & Friesen, W. V. (1969, April 4). Pan-Cultural Elements in Facial Displays of Emotion. Science, 164, 86-88. Retrieved April, 2008, from [4]
  16. ^ Ekman, P., Sorenson, R. E., & Friesen, W. V. (1969, April 4). Pan-Cultural Elements in Facial Displays of Emotion. Science, 164, 86-88. Retrieved April, 2008, from [5]
  17. ^ Carstensen, L. L., Gottman, J. M., Levenson, R. W. (1995). Emotional behavior in long term marriage.. American Psychological Association, 10(1), 140-149.
  18. ^ Gladwell, Malcolm (copyright 2005). Blink. Back Bay Books imprint (Little, Brown and Company). pp. 32–33. ISBN 0-316-01066-9. http://www.gladwell.com/blink/.  

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Quotes about contempt.

Contents

Sourced

  • The infidelity of the Gentile world, and that more especially of men of rank and learning in it, is resolved into a principle which, in my judgment, will account for the inefficacy of any argument, or any evidence whatever, viz. contempt prior to investigation.
    • William Paley, in A View of the Evidences of Christianity (1794), as quoted in The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When (2006) by Ralph Keyes
    • Variant: There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all argument, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance. This principle is, contempt prior to examination.
      • As quoted in Anglo-Israel or, The British Nation: The Lost Tribes of Israel (1879) by Rev. William H. Poole
    • A similar statement apparently derived from this has become widely attributed to Herbert Spencer, but there are no records of him ever saying or writing it, the first attribution to him occurring in 1931:
There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • The spirit of contempt is the true spirit of Antichrist; for no other is more directly opposed to Christ.
  • Christ saw much in this world to weep over, and much to pray over: but he saw nothing in it to look upon with contempt.
  • There is no room in the universe for the least contempt or pride; but only for a gentle and a reverent heart.
  • Nothing is so contemptible as habitual contempt. It is impossible to remain long under its control without being dwarfed by its influence.
    • Elias Lyman Magoon, p. 160.
  • Ah, there is nothing more beautiful than the difference between the thought about sinful creatures which is natural to a holy being, and the thought about sinful creatures which is natural to a self-righteous being. The one is all contempt: the other, all pity.
    • Alexander MacLaren, p. 160.
  • Contempt leaves a deeper scar than anger.
    • Author unidentified, p. 160.

Unsourced

  • "Familiarity induces contempt, but distance secures respect." - Anonymous
  • "Men despise what they do not understand." ~ Anonymous

External links

Wiktionary-logo-en.png
Look up contempt in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Simple English

The English Wiktionary has a dictionary definition (meanings of a word) for:

Contempt is an intense feeling of disrespect and dislike. It is related to feelings of resentment, jealousy and bitterness.

Contempt may also mean:

  • Contempt of court
  • Contempt of Congress
  • Contempt of Parliament
  • Contempt (film), known as Le Mépris in its original French, a film by Jean-Luc Godard
  • Contempt is the name of a song by Raymond Watts (also known as PIG).
  • "Contempt", a song by John Zorn from the 1989 album Naked City
  • "Contempt", an album by futurepop band Assemblage 23
  • "Contempt Breeds Contamination", a song by the thrash metal band Trivium

Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message