Beneath Their Sneering Veneer, People Prone To Contempt Are Psychologically Fragile

Posted on June 28, 2016

That's according to Roberta Schriber and her colleagues who've devised such a test and described the character of typical contemptuous person – someone quick to judge when another individual (or a social group) has failed to live up to certain expectations – either morally or in terms of competence – and who responds by looking down on this person or group, with the aim of distancing themselves from them, and/or derogating them.

In the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology the researchers describe how they tried out different items for measuring trait contempt on hundreds of students and members of the public recruited online at Amazon's Mechanical Turk survey website. They eventually settled on a 10-item test that they said best captures one's proneness to expressing and feeling contempt.

Through several studies, the researchers then asked hundreds more participants to complete the new contemptuousness scale alongside other established tests of other personality constructs. From this they found that high scores on the "dispositional contempt scale" correlated with several other measures, suggesting that contemptuousness is not the same as, but tends to go hand in hand with: low trait agreeableness (no surprise there), hubristic pride (when successes are attributed to one's ability, not effort), proneness to envy, narcissism (especially the covert variety), a preoccupation with social status and hierarchy (as measured by trait Machiavellianism), an anxious attachment style, loneliness, perfectionism (in judging others, and in terms of fearing being judged by perfectionist standards by others), racism, and with low self esteem. In short, beneath their sneering veneer, contempt-prone people are needy and psychologically fragile.


Category(s):Emotional Intelligence

Source material from BPS Research Digest


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