Hostility is a form of angry internal rejection or denial in psychology. It is a part of personal construct psychology, developed by George Kelly. In everyday speech it is more commonly used as a synonym for anger and aggression.

In psychological terms, Kelly defined hostility as the wilful refusal to accept evidence that one's perceptions of the world are wrong. Instead of reconsidering, the hostile person attempts to force or coerce the world to fit their view, even if this is a forlorn hope, and however harmful the cost.

Whilst testing theories against reality is a necessary part of life, and persistance in the face of failure is often a necessary part of invention or discovery, in the case of hostility there is the distinction that the evidence is not assessed and a decision made to try again. Instead the evidence is suppressed or denied, and deleted from awareness - the unfavorable evidence which might suggest a prior belief is flawed is instead ignored and wilfully avoided. Psychologically, it can be said that reality is being held to ransom, and in this sense hostility is a form of psychological extortion - an attempt to force reality to produce the desired feedback, in order that preconceptions become validated.

In this sense, hostility is a response which forms part of discounting of unwanted cognitive dissonance.

Examples of hostility

In the psychological sense, the following are examples of hostility:

• A gambler who refuses to accept that they will lose long term, but is driven to contuinue for ever higher stakes on the likely-mistaken belief they will "prove" their gambling system works.

• A person who repeats the same pattern or tells the same story over and over, seeking validation or approval or success when it is already doomed to failure or the rest of the world has moved on.

• A person who clings to the same world-view, even when the world view has essentially shown it doesn't work.

• A person who refuses to do something (even if for their own benefit) because to do it would be accepting that something else they felt strongly about was wrong (or would benefit from moderation or compromise), that they could not face.

• A person who refuses to move on with his/her life after breaking up with their boyfriend/girlfriend and would refuse to accept any facts that he/she did not have the same feelings as he/she did.

• A person who psychologically inside is being driven by a need to prove to their parents they were right, or successful, or deserved love, even knowing the matter will never be resolved as they wish, or that it will not make a difference, or that it is a pointless trail, or that their parents are dead or incapable of response.

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Author's Bio: 

This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Anger Management. The Official Guide to Anger Management is Hale Dwoskin. Dwoskin, New York Times Best-Selling author of The Sedona Method, and co-author of the best-selling Happiness Is Free (five-book series) is the CEO and Director of Training of Sedona Training Associates, an organization that teaches courses based on the emotional releasing techniques originated by his mentor, Lester Levenson. Dwoskin is an international speaker and featured faculty member at Esalen and the Omega Institute. He is also one of the 24 featured teachers of the book and movie phenomenon, “The Secret.” For thirty years, he has regularly been teaching The Sedona Method techniques to individuals and corporations throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

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