Hatred is Behavior

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hatred is not an emotion.

Displays of hatred and contempt are behaviors that we have been taught to associate with emotions. But hatred is really behavior. Some of it is going on up in your thoughts, and that connects to things you are doing out here where we can see what you’re doing. Hatred can be invisible, or it can be blatant, but it’s behavior.

Exploration of raw emotions is essential so that you can choose how to act on them. Sometimes you need to just be with them. Sometimes you need to act on them.

This points to a cultural challenge we are facing (again). Waves of protests are, at least in part, extinction bursts. Extinction happens when you expect to be reinforced (rewarded) for what you do, and the reinforcement doesn’t happen. Then it doesn’t happen again a few more times.

Say, you call your boyfriend and he doesn’t call you back and you call again, and again, then you text, maybe email, or call his best friend, or call your best friend to vent, then you cry and eat ice cream all night. All that extra behavior in addition to calling. That’s called behavioral extinction. 

Here’s where things are right now.

“We tried kneeling, that didn’t work. We tried voting, that didn’t work. Let’s protest. That didn’t work. Let’s burn the place down.” It’s all that variability of behavior that happens when you don’t get the reinforcers you need. We’re not talking about something people want because it would be nice to have. We’re talking about a situation in which without those reinforcers people die. In this case the reinforcer is absolutely, fundamentally needed for survival. Extinction bursts are often the context for anger.

What kind of reinforcers are people expecting or hoping for that they’re not getting that lead to these violent protests? Just don’t kill black people. Stop killing people of color. 

This violence started as counter control, which is largely avoidance and escape behavior against coercive authority. The people doing the stuff want to avoid the situation. Black people today want to stop getting killed by bad cops for going to the store or playing video games or reading or asking for help or for minor crimes. Because honest to God, people shouldn’t die for selling cigarettes or for forgery. That shouldn’t even need to be said, but apparently it does. “Should” is a meaningless word. They do die for these things and less. 

So here comes hatred. An acting out of centuries of frustrated fear and anger. People of color have good reasons to hate white people. We gave them good reasons. We keep giving them good reasons.

Where does white people’s hatred come from? That’s a whole other story that we very much need to explore more deeply.

Hatred is not an emotion.

Displays of hatred and contempt are behaviors that we have been taught to associate with emotions. But hatred is really behavior. Some of it is going on up in your thoughts, and that connects to things you are doing out here where we can see what you’re doing. Hatred can be invisible, or it can be blatant, but it’s behavior.

Exploration of raw emotions is essential so that you can choose how to act on them. Sometimes you need to just be with them. Sometimes you need to act on them.

This points to a cultural challenge we are facing (again). Waves of protests are, at least in part, extinction bursts. Extinction happens when you expect to be reinforced (rewarded) for what you do, and the reinforcement doesn’t happen. Then it doesn’t happen again a few more times.

Say, you call your boyfriend and he doesn’t call you back and you call again, and again, then you text, maybe email, or call his best friend, or call your best friend to vent, then you cry and eat ice cream all night. All that extra behavior in addition to calling. That’s called behavioral extinction. 

Here’s where things are right now.

“We tried kneeling, that didn’t work. We tried voting, that didn’t work. Let’s protest. That didn’t work. Let’s burn the place down.” It’s all that variability of behavior that happens when you don’t get the reinforcers you need. We’re not talking about something people want because it would be nice to have. We’re talking about a situation in which without those reinforcers people die. In this case the reinforcer is absolutely, fundamentally needed for survival. Extinction bursts are often the context for anger.

What kind of reinforcers are people expecting or hoping for that they’re not getting that lead to these violent protests? Just don’t kill black people. Stop killing people of color. 

This violence started as counter control, which is largely avoidance and escape behavior against coercive authority. The people doing the stuff want to avoid the situation. Black people today want to stop getting killed by bad cops for going to the store or playing video games or reading or asking for help or for minor crimes. Because honest to God, people shouldn’t die for selling cigarettes or for forgery. That shouldn’t even need to be said, but apparently it does. “Should” is a meaningless word. They do die for these things and less. 

So here comes hatred. An acting out of centuries of frustrated fear and anger. People of color have good reasons to hate white people. We gave them good reasons. We keep giving them good reasons.

Where does white people’s hatred come from? That’s a whole other story that we very much need to explore more deeply.

Categories: Behavior, Current Events

Kellie Snider, MS

When I was a young child, my father, my grandmother, an uncle, and a teacher noticed and complimented my talent and interest in drawing. My family didn’t know how to help me make a career in art, but they made sure I knew that my art was a good thing. I was fortunate to grow up in a time when the arts were still considered an essential part of a well-rounded education. I had a very good art teacher in elementary school, and I was able to continue studying art throughout middle school and high school. I even ventured a couple of years of college-level art study.

My education in art did not include the business of art, so I went off and got a traditional job as a draftsman, the kind that drew with pencils and templates on sheets of vellum, spread across massive desks. (I always named my desks Carlisle.) I worked for an oil company, a shipyard, a power company, and for NASA’s Johnson Space Center TV Department. I was there during some pivotal moments in space history. I also met the man I would marry. I stayed home to raise our kids for a few years, and while doing that I worked as a freelance writer and did some freelance art as well. But then I got a deep interest in animal behavior thanks to an aggressive cockatoo we had, got an advanced degree in behavior analysis and launched a career in animal welfare. That career lasted nearly 15 years, and it nearly did me in. The burnout and compassion fatigue was overwhelming.

When I was laid off from a director’s position in animal welfare during Covid Times, I began to paint to help ground myself. People began to show an interest in my painting and I got many requests for commissions. That was when I realized that I could learn the business side of art and be a real live artist full time.

I have never been happier in my professional life. I wake up every day, have a lovely cup of tea with breakfast, and head to my studio. My days are rich and peaceful. I’ve come home for good.as trained as a behavior analyst, but I am what Barbara Sher called a Scanner. I'm interested in a lot of different things, and once I learn a lot about them I'm ready to learn something new. But all the things involve somebody's behavior. This blog is about how behavior and different activities intersect.

Constructional Approaches will be discussed a lot.