The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Researchers take on crucial question: Are haters gonna hate?

Placeholder while article actions load

It is an age-old adage of Twitter, which apparently traces its roots back to a 3LW video from 2000: Haters gonna hate.

Now, scientists have taken it upon themselves to figure out whether this is true. Do verified haters tend to hate everything else they stumble upon? Yes, according to a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. People who tend to hate things they already know about are (surprise!) more disposed to hate things they have not yet come in contact with.

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.

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.

"If individuals differ in the general tendency to like versus dislike objects, an intriguing possibility is that attitudes toward independent objects may actually be related," they write. "So someone’s attitude toward architecture may in fact tell us something about their attitude toward health care because both attitudes would be biased by a disposition to like or dislike stimuli."

The researchers did run one group through the hater test, as I like to think of it, twice with a month in between trials, to ensure that it didn't just represent some people having a bad day.

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 present research demonstrated that some people tend to like things, whereas others tend to dislike things," the researchers conclude, contending that "A more thorough understanding of this tendency will lead to a more thorough understanding of the psychology of attitudes."

Hate on, haters. It was what you were meant to do.