Negative feelings put stress on our bodies
Over time, this response puts stress on our bodies, conditioning us to be more skeptical of a person’s actions than we would be if we felt neutral about them. “In the mind, the neural connections become stronger and cause us to dwell more on the negative aspects of that person,” says Marsden. “Even if they were to do something positive, we’d pay more attention to the negative because that’s what we’ve trained our brain to do.” This explains why we have a seemingly endless list of negative facts about people we dislike, even if our rational brain would tell us there has to be something redeeming about them.
This heightened arousal of our fearful instincts causes us to dread future interactions with people we dislike. In turn, this conditions us into even further dislike of that person, which just validates our negative feelings. In this way, our distaste for another person becomes like a snake eating its tail: we dislike them because they make us feel bad, and we feel bad because we dislike them.