This Is Why Your Contrarian Mates Think It’s Cool To Hate Popular Things

by : Emily Brown on : 21 Mar 2021 16:28
This Is Why Your Contrarian Mates Think It's Cool To Hate Popular ThingsITV

We’ve all got a friend who thinks they’re cool, quirky or original for some of the unpopular opinions they hold – and if no one springs to mind, it might be you. 

Whether it’s refusing to admit that talent show fails are funny, arguing that roast potatoes aren’t the best kind of potato, or thinking themselves too cool for social media, some people just love to categorise themselves as someone who lives life outside the box.


Contrarians, as such people have been dubbed, regularly make sure to voice their unique or surprising opinion to emphasise the fact that they stand out from the crowd, and there are a few reasons why their love for controversy might have come to be.

Kimberly Rios, a psychologist from the University of Chicago, explained that people will often turn to minority opinions to ‘bolster their sense of who they are as individuals’. Other explanations include being burned by conventional ideas, for example a child of divorce who swears off marriage, or using defiance to get attention, according to Psychology Today.

Confidence in sharing the unpopular opinion also seems to be common among contrarians, as a study conducted at Australia’s University of Queensland found those who had strong moral convictions about their opinions were more likely to share a controversial view.


Rios credited this motivation to be certain to contrarians’ desire to be reassuring not only to themselves, but also to others. She added: ‘For people who are grappling with ‘Who am I?’, their motive to be unique trumps their motive to belong.’


Though they might cause some frustrations with outspoken opinions, it must be noted that IQ is a contributing factor when it comes to contrarians, with Psychology Today noting ‘the smarter people are, the less they feel compelled to conform to social expectations’.

Psychologist Robert Sternberg, provost of Oklahoma State University, commented on contrarians’ contributions to society in areas of creativity, explaining that ‘creative ideas usually get a weak reception, at least initially’.


Sternberg continued: ‘But contrarians give their lives meaning by attempting to change the way things are to the way they think they should be.’

So there you have it; while it might be easy to simply roll your eyes and scoff at your mates’ ability to contradict your every opinion, next time take a second to consider what’s really behind the unpopular viewpoint.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Life, Friends, Psychology


Psychology Today
  1. Psychology Today

    Field Guide to The Contrarian