This psychological distancing is an essential way of expressing one’s nonidentification with the object of one’s contempt and it precludes sympathetic identification with the object of contempt.(Hume, 2002, 251) Contempt for a person involves a way of negatively and comparatively regarding or attending to someone who has not fully lived up to an interpersonal standard that the person extending contempt thinks is important.This form of regard constitutes a psychological withdrawal from the object of contempt.Contempt can be useful to being a functioning member of the moral community.In particular, contempt involves the judgment that, because of some moral or personal failing or defect, the contemned person has compromised his or her standing vis-à-vis an interpersonal standard that the contemptor treats as important.This may have not been done deliberately but by a lack of status.This lack of status may cause the contemptuous to classify the object of contempt as utterly worthless, or as not fully meeting a particular interpersonal standard.
Men and women act differently when displaying contempt in same-sex relationships.
Findings on contempt are less clear, though there is at least some preliminary evidence that this emotion and its expression are universally recognized.
Contempt requires a judgment concerning the appearance or standing of the object of contempt.
Contempt is also a particular way of regarding or attending to the object of contempt, and this form of regard has an unpleasant affective element.
However, contempt may be experienced as a highly visceral emotion similar to disgust, or as cool disregard. In David Hume's studies of contempt, he suggests that contempt essentially requires apprehending the “bad qualities” of someone “as they really are” while simultaneously making a comparison between this person and ourselves.