Hate and how we can stop hating: the role of betrayal and atonement

Project Synopsis

Title: Hate and how we can stop hating: the role of betrayal and atonement

Hatred is a complex phenomenon involving many components, including betrayal. If an individual is betrayed, particularly by trusted others, the resulting hatred may be aimed specifically at that person. However, a sense of betrayal can also be rooted in a more general feeling of being hurt or let down by society, in which the resulting hatred will be more diffuse and could be directed at society in general or specific groups. A feeling of being betrayed incorporates inner conflict or cognitive dissonance (Festinger 1957), which can be a source of significant distress. The core aim of this study is to explore these processes and how they may be mitigated through reconciliation, restoration, reparation, apologies, justice and other mechanisms. Initially (objective 1), the narratives of people affected by political violence will be gathered to elucidate what triggers hatred and the role of betrayal and its mitigation strategies. These findings will inform the design of an fMRI study (objective 2) where the neural correlates of betrayal and the previously mentioned mitigating factors will be investigated in the general population. Outcomes of this project will inform procedures aimed at preventing hateful behaviours and implementing successful mitigating practices. 

host institution
partner organization(s)

ESR2 Leda Tortora, PhD Candidate at Trinity College Dublin


Dr. Jan De Vries, Trinity College Dublin, Cognitive dissonance research, cognitive neuroscience, social psychology