Why Are People So Mean?

You may have found yourself in situations where people behave quite badly. It is true that people can be so mean at times. The question is, "Why are people so mean?" Anyone can be mean for no apparent reason – at least you may not be aware of it. One of your friends may take advantage of your situation, but it is possible to see a complete stranger behaving badly. Why does it happen? Come discover more about it.

Why Are People So Mean?

It is true that humans are social animals and they have to interact and cooperate with each other to lay the foundation of healthy relationships. However, it is not uncommon to come across people who harm you. And this could be due to a number of reasons actually.

1. They Favor People in Their Groups

Humans have the need to make themselves feel unique from others in various positive ways. When others treat people around them nicely, some people want to be different. Being mean may well be their way of looking and feeling unique. Moreover, humans always form groups and are more favorable to people who are in their groups as compared to those who are not. If groups are competing with each other or the identity of their groups is challenged, the tension between people in these groups will definitely intensify.

2. They Make Comparisons

Why are people so mean? Blame the habit of downward comparison. It is natural for humans to compare them to others, making them either feel good or feel bad. As humans want to feel good about themselves, they tend to make downward comparisons, which enable them to look down upon others. People who have been insulted or belittled in the past are likely to be mean to others. Being mean to others is their way of feeling better about themselves.

3. They Project Others in Bad Light

Research shows that some people cope with flaws in their own personality by perceiving others as having high levels of that same negative characteristic. For instance, if you are feeling dishonest, you will make yourself believe that others are even more dishonest, which will make you feel normal about yourself.

4. They Have Threatened Self Esteem

Many people show aggressive behavior when they have threatened self-esteem. It means that someone who behaves badly with you does this because they are feeling worse about themselves at that point of time. So when you wondering the question "Why are people so mean to me?" next time, don't just think it's due to something you've done.

5. They Just Lack Awareness

Some people do not try to be mean or they do not mean harm with their behavior. They behave badly because that is the only way they know to interact with others. This usually happens due to a lack of awareness, not intended meanness. Take cultural differences for example. What is considered polite in one culture may be considered mean in the other. If you neglect the ritual of Hongi due to lack of knowledge, Maori may think you are mean.

6. Miscommunication May Be to Blame

What are people so mean? This may happen due to miscommunication, which happens when the messenger makes errors in choosing accurate words and using proper tongue. This can affect how the audience would interpret the information. Besides, sometimes people define the same word in different ways and that can cause confusion. The listener may misunderstand other's words and tag them as mean. Similarly, some people are very direct in their communication, while others are not. You may consider that direct approach as mean.

7. Misinterpreted intentions May Be the Issue

Some people come across as mean or hurtful when they actually try to be helpful. A great example is how parents are protective towards their children, but their children may not understand what their true intentions are. Misinterpreted intentions can cause confusions and make you wonder "Why are people so mean?" If you always warn people about pitfalls in what they are trying to do because you care about them, they may not understand it, think you are very unsupportive and take it as a mean behavior.

8. They Are Just Not Good at Intense Emotions

Some people do not know how to deal with intense emotions. They make conscious efforts to reduce the intensity of their emotions and this sometimes make them look mean. For example, if one just lost a family, he is so overwhelmed by the grief and focusing on the details of arranging a funeral instead of releasing this emotion is the only way to keep him together and help him move on. But others may perceive this as indifferent and mean.

9. They Are Controlling

People may try to be overpowering or try to control others due to different reasons. For instance:

  • Anxiety makes people try to control others, be it to show power, to seek safety or to avoid being left alone.
  • Some people try to protect their self-image by seeking perfection in everything. They do not mind disparaging others to show their "perfectness". They control others to keep them silent even when they might disagree.
  • Some people try to validate their negative view of the world to feel less miserable. They prove their negative view by being mean to others, which naturally gets mean responses.

10. They Are Just Under Stress

People behave badly when they are under stress. Unmanaged stress can cause several problems and increase the symptoms of tension, including a heightened state of agitation and muscular tension. Someone may resort to mean behavior to reduce this discomfort. For example, certain man who is scolded by his boss and says nothing back may transfer his aggression to his wife or children when he gets back home.

Why are people so mean? Here is a video to help you understand and know how to react when someone is being mean to you: