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Appeal to Spite


Disciplines Argument > Fallacies > Appeal to Spite

Description | Discussion | Example | See also



The other person has spiteful feelings towards certain people. So frame your argument to support this, legitimizing the spitefulness, framing it as 'right'.

Even if they do not have specific people in mind, there are generic groups which can be invoked, such as politicians and those who are rich and advantaged.

Demonize these 'bad' people, making them universally bad and deserving of retribution. Frame the other person as good and just, with right on their side. Show them how the actions you are suggesting will serve righteous justice on those who deserve it.


If you buy this dress you'll be the belle of the ball. And you'll really show up those poor fools who can't afford such luxury.

Don't you hate the way the planning committee always helps their 'friends'. This is a great way to get what you want and really show them up.

Give it to me, not them. They don't deserve it.


Spitefulness is a negative emotions can be based in the needs for control and status. Sometimes it is unfounded, based in bullying. At other times it comes from a need for justice and revenge.

To act in negative ways towards other, people tell themselves stories that justify their actions, typically saying 'they deserve it'. An appeal to spite supports this story and so creates a bond with the other person which leads them to accept the fallacious argument.

There is a universal delight in the discomfort of others. Germans have a word for this: schadenfreude. There is hence humor in seeing others slip on a banana skin. There is additional delight in seeing those who put themselves above you taking a fall.

Appeal to Spite is a special case of Appeal to Emotion.



Also known as

Argumentum ad Odium

See also

Appeal to Emotion

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