New research shows that “haters” — those people who dislike lots of things — may actually be pretty good at their jobs. That’s because they spend a lot of time on a few activities, giving them the opportunity to hone their skills on those focused tasks.
According to a new study published in the journal Social Psychology, a person’s “dispositional attitude” — whether they are a “hater” or a “liker” — plays an important role in their daily activities.
What that means is that people who like many things do many different things during the course of a week. In contrast, the haters do very few things with their time.
The study found that haters and likers did not differ in how much time they spent doing activities throughout the week. Instead, the difference was in the number of activities each did.
As a result, haters spent more time on any given activity than likers. Some may characterize haters as less active because they do fewer things, while others may characterized them as more focused because they spend more time on the small number of things they do, according to the researchers.
“The present results demonstrate that patterns of general action may occur for reasons other than the desire to be active versus inactive,” the researchers said. “Indeed, some people may be more active than others not because they want to be active per se, but because they identify a large number of specific behaviors in which they want to engage.”
For their research, Justin Hepler, Ph.D., from the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Dolores Albarracín, Ph.D., from the Annenberg School for Communication and Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, conducted two studies, asking participants to report all of their activities over a one-week period. They also were asked to complete a measure of dispositional attitudes.
The researchers found that while haters and likers did not differ in the types of activities they pursued, haters tended to do fewer activities throughout the week. Nearly 15 percent of the differences in how many activities people conducted during a typical week was associated with being a hater versus a liker, the researchers found.
The study’s findings could have implications for understanding the development of skills and expertise.
For example, likers may adopt a jack-of-all-trades approach to life, investing small amounts of time in a wide variety of activities. This would leave them somewhat skilled at many tasks.
In contrast, when haters find an activity they actually like, they may invest a larger amount of time in that task, allowing them to develop a higher skill level compared to likers, according to the researchers.
This same pattern could also help explain why some people have longer attention spans than others, according to the researchers.
For example, likers may have more difficulty keeping focused on a task because they perceive so many interesting and distracting opportunities in their environment. In contrast, because haters like so few things, they may be unlikely to be distracted when they are doing a task, the researchers said, noting “their generalized dislike may actually benefit their attentional control.”
Source: University of Pennsylvania