Why does arrogance cause people to be cruel to other people? why does arrogance cause people to be cruel to other people?  

Expert Answers
e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

(This question would do best in the Discussion Forum on eNotes.)

Arrogance is a mental and emotional state defined by a sense of distinction and separation. An arrogant person believes him or herself to be above others. This feeling can lead a person away from empathy and a sense that others have the same kind and quality of emotional experiences that he or she does. 

When a person is separate and set apart, he may feel that his actions don't have a real impact on others because those others are not understood to be "like him". 

Perhaps some arrogance can even lead people to believe that because they are set so high above others, they are not subject to the same moral rules that everyone else follows. They are allowed to act cruelly, without remorse or regret, because the normal rules of behavior do not apply to them. 

It's important to note, however, that people who are arrogant one day may be humble the next. We have to allow people to change. Judging other people as if we ourselves are flawless can lead us to become the arrogant ones. 


booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think arrogance comes from a deep-seated insecurity. People who are arrogant (I think) often act this way to cover some sense of inadequacy that they are trying to hide. We see this in students in school when kids are still relatively young. This sense of poor self-esteem is covered by the arrogance, making others see him/her (at least the arrogant one thinks so) as sucessful and well-adjusted. Arrogance is a person's way of trying to convince the world and perhaps self that he/she is as good as everyone else...even better. The truth is that when one peels away the layers, there is likely to be an scared or victimized child beneath the arrogant exterior—and there is irony in that what the person projects is the exact opposite of how he/she feels about him- or herself inside.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that, to a greater or lesser degree, thoughtlessness probably goes along with arrogance. An arrogant person considers him/herself to be so superior to others in some if not most things. In some cases, this attitude is shown in unthinking actions, as the arrogant person does things like ignoring the input of others and proceeding to take charge and determine actions without considering the opinions or suggestions of others. In other cases, the arrogant person may make a point of announcing why his/her way is obviously the best course of action to all within hearing, which could be seen as a form of cruelty when it is meant to degrade others.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that it is not necessarily a given that arrogance, as such, leads to cruelty.  I'm also not sure it is always related to a sense of insecurity- sometimes arrogance can take the form of an utter unwillingness to challenge one's own beliefs. This can have devastating consequences. But certainly it is often part of an inflated sense of self, which can contribute to the belief that any actions one takes are justified, even if these actions can be hurtful to others. On a slightly different note, though, isn't arrogance at the heart of ambition and leadership? It seems quite arrogant to me to believe that one is qualified to lead others. 

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Arrogance often results from insecurity.  People who are insecure often feel they are better than others.  It's a paradox, but the arrogance is actually a form of subconscious mental protection.  They can pass off anyone who does not think like they do as stupid, even if they are the ones who are wrong.  

Sometimes arrogance is just arrogance though.  Truly arrogant people might be sociopaths or borderline personalities, narcissists or some other self-absorbed psychiatric group.  In that case, they are cruel because they simply do not care.  All other people exist only to be used.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Arrogance usually comes from an idea that one is superior to another in some manner, and it can be perceived as cruel by others. Certainly, arrogant people who deliberately treat others in a subservient manner are lacking in proper social graces, but many of them don't even recognize their problem. Many people have been raised in a manner in which their parents teach them that they are special, and for some, it's tough to admit their own shortcomings. I don't think arrogant people are inherently cruel, but their self-centered attitudes can sure come off as cruel to the people with whom they interact.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First of all, do we know for a fact that arrogance causes cruelty?  It seems to make sense that it would, but that doesn't necessarily mean it actually does.

If it does, it is presumably because arrogance is a form of thinking that other people are not like us.  It's like how racial arrogance made white people think it was okay to have slaves.  We stop seeing others as actual people and simply see them as tools to use however we want to.

shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Arrogant people, and I suppose we are all guilty of this to some degree, are probably not being cruel intentionally. A major part of being arrogant is failing to take into account the views and feelings of others. Arrogance makes us focus on ourselves. Therefore, we are more likely to do or say something that seems cruel to someone else, but not to us (the arrogant perpetrators).

snathans13 | Student

Arrogant people usually think that they are above everyone else. They are rude to others because they think they're above everyone else. They want to put people down so they can be above some people.