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Spite (sentiment)

To spite is to intentionally annoy, hurt, or upset without self-benefit. Spiteful words or actions are delivered in such a way that it is clear that the person is delivering them just to annoy, hurt, or upset.[1] When the intent to annoy, hurt, or upset is shown subtly, behavior is considered catty.[2]

Spiteful behavior can be socially beneficial if it punishes offenders in order to enforce beneficial social norms.[3]

In his 1929 examination of emotional disturbances, Psychology and Morals: An Analysis of Character, J. A. Hadfield uses deliberately spiteful acts to illustrate the difference between disposition and sentiment.[4]

In fiction

The Underground Man, in Fyodor Dostoevsky's novella Notes from Underground, is an example of spite. His motivation remains constantly spiteful, undercutting his own existence and ability to live.

See also


  1. ^ "spite - definition of spite in English from the Oxford dictionary".
  2. ^ [][permanent dead link]
  3. ^ The Psychology Of Spite: Why Humans Sacrifice Self-Interests To Punish Others
  4. ^ Hadfield, J. A. "Psychology and Morals: An Analysis of Character". Google Books preview. Retrieved 2016-05-02.