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Aversion vs. Dislike: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 7, 2023
Aversion is a strong feeling of repugnance or avoidance, often instinctual or deep-seated; dislike is a milder, more general feeling of not favoring or being displeased with something.

Key Differences

Aversion implies a deep-rooted, often visceral reaction of repulsion towards something. It's an intense feeling that can be instinctive or developed over time. Dislike, in contrast, denotes a milder, more subjective sense of not favoring something. It's less intense and can be based on personal taste or preference.
The origins of aversion often lie in deeper psychological or instinctive responses. It may be linked to past experiences or inherent dispositions. Dislike, however, is usually shaped by less intense factors like personal taste, mild discomfort, or a simple preference for alternatives.
Aversion can manifest physically, with symptoms like unease, anxiety, or nausea when faced with the aversive object. It's a reaction that might seem disproportionate to the trigger. Dislike, on the other hand, is usually not accompanied by physical symptoms and is more of a mental or emotional state.
In terms of behavior, aversion can lead to active avoidance or a strong desire to distance oneself from the aversive object. Dislike might influence choices but doesn't necessarily compel one to avoid the disliked object or situation actively.
The language used to express aversion often conveys a sense of urgency or intensity, such as "I can't stand" or "I am repulsed by." Dislike is typically articulated in less intense terms, such as "I don't prefer" or "I am not fond of."

Comparison Chart


Strong, often visceral reaction
Milder, more subjective feeling


Deep-seated, possibly instinctual
Based on personal preference or taste

Physical Manifestation

Can cause physical symptoms like nausea
Rarely causes physical symptoms

Behavioral Influence

Leads to active avoidance
Influences choices but less compellingly

Expressive Language

Terms convey urgency, e.g., "repulsed by"
Milder terms, e.g., "not fond of"

Aversion and Dislike Definitions


An instinctive recoil from something.
His aversion to heights kept him from joining the hiking trip.


A mild distaste or disapproval.
His dislike of modern art was apparent in his critiques.


A deep-seated dislike or avoidance.
Her aversion to seafood made her cautious at the buffet.


A personal inclination to avoid something.
He had a dislike for discussing politics at family gatherings.


A strong feeling of repulsion.
He felt an aversion to crowded places after the incident.


A feeling of not favoring something.
She expressed her dislike for spicy food.


A psychological opposition to a particular thing or practice.
She developed an aversion to smoking after learning its health risks.


A preference against something.
Her dislike for early mornings made her a night owl.


An intense reluctance or dread of something.
His aversion to public speaking caused him anxiety during presentations.


A gentle repulsion or antipathy.
Her dislike of loud music was well known among her friends.


A fixed, intense dislike; repugnance
Formed an aversion to crowds.


To regard with distaste or aversion.


The cause or object of such a feeling
"I jumped up, and ran out of the room ... because a newspaper writer is my aversion" (Fanny Kemble).


Is aversion always rational?

Not necessarily; it can be instinctual or based on subconscious factors.

What is aversion?

A deep-seated feeling of repulsion or avoidance.

What is dislike?

A general feeling of not favoring or being displeased with something.

Is dislike permanent?

Not always; tastes and preferences can change over time.

Can dislikes be influenced by culture?

Yes, cultural norms often shape our preferences.

How is aversion different from dislike?

Aversion is more intense and often instinctual, while dislike is milder and based on preference.

Can you have an aversion to something you've never experienced?

Yes, sometimes aversions are instinctive or developed through indirect exposure.

Do children experience dislike differently than adults?

Children's dislikes are often more fluid and can change rapidly.

Can dislike affect relationships?

Yes, if it's towards something significant to the other person.

How do you deal with someone's aversion?

Be understanding and avoid forcing exposure.

Can aversion be overcome?

Yes, through exposure therapy or understanding its root cause.

Can you dislike something but still tolerate it?

Yes, dislike doesn't always lead to avoidance.

Is aversion always conscious?

No, sometimes it operates subconsciously.

Can dislikes be a sign of personality traits?

Yes, they can reflect personal values and characteristics.

Can therapy help with aversion?

Yes, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Does aversion affect mental health?

It can, especially if it leads to avoidance of necessary activities.

Is there a genetic component to aversion or dislike?

Genetics can play a role, especially in aversions to certain tastes or smells.

Is it normal to have aversions?

Yes, it's a normal part of human psychology.

Can aversion be a survival mechanism?

In some cases, yes, especially if it's towards harmful substances or situations.

How do you know if it's an aversion or just a strong dislike?

Aversion is usually more intense and might include physical symptoms.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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