After waiting a few seconds, the researchers informed the participants that some of them – themselves or their partners – would receive an additional financial reward for their efforts in writing the article. The system will randomly choose who will get the money. – So we had four groups of responders. In the first, there were people who received a negative essay score and were wronged because they did not receive the award, in the second they received a negative essay score, but did receive a prize, in the third volunteers were praised but not rewarded, and in the fourth – praised and rewarded – Carolina Didush is included Hazar.
We intuitively support revenge. We consider hurting someone immoral, but taking revenge is not immoral
The next stage of the experiment was to investigate how information about the award affected the respondent’s well-being. As you can easily guess, people whose articles were rated poorly felt significantly worse than respondents whose papers were rated positively. The people who felt the worst were not only rated poorly and did not receive money, but also found out that their partner was rewarded. Does that mean that despite the reward they want to take revenge on him?
A questionnaire helped answer this question. The researchers asked the respondents questions – do you want him/her to suffer, do you feel that you should/should go back to her, and if so, how much do you want to take revenge. We hypothesized that if revenge is motivated solely by the desire to improve well-being, as numerous studies show, then reward – satisfaction for the harm done, should prevent the aggrieved person from taking revenge – says Carolina Deedoch-Hazar.
However, it turned out that the award improved the well-being of the victims only for a moment. The bills have not been settled. In spite of everything, the injured person wanted to punish the offender – says Carolina Didoch-Hazar.
But how do you get justice in studying? After all, volunteers cannot be electrocuted or slapped in the face. The researchers used malicious images – one with dead animal carcasses, and another with open-brain surgeries. Victims had to allocate photos of the partner who abused them, thus achieving justice. They can give it from zero to nine pictures, where zero means no punishment and nine means writing a 900-character article. – It was our measure of aggression and revenge. The more hateful images the aggrieved person confesses, the more aggressive and vengeful they are – explains Didush-Hazar.
The study found that those whose articles received a low rating attributed more hateful images to their partner than those whose articles were praised. This means that the abused volunteers became aggressive towards their partners despite their satisfaction in receiving a financial reward they did not expect. So financial compensation is not enough to prevent retaliation after harm. It can reduce meditation on it, but it will not completely stop people from wanting revenge. This indicates that the Avengers not only want to enjoy revenge, but also want to balance the scales by sending a message to the perpetrators: justice must be served. They engage in retaliatory behavior because they want the offender to understand that he acted wrong and that’s why he was punished – Carolina Didoch-Hazar comments.
330 people participated in the study by scientists from SWPS University. The results of their work were published in the scientific journal “The Journal of Social Psychology”. In subsequent studies, scientists from SWPS University intend to find out the reasons why people become aggressive and want revenge.
The desire for revenge is a universal driver of human behavior. – This feeling appears both in extreme events, such as theft, murder or stalking, but also in many everyday situations – says Carolina Didoch-Hazar. People support revenge intuitively. They consider hurting someone immoral, but taking revenge on them is not immoral. One of the studies that demonstrated this was done by the team of Mario Gollwitzer of Ludwik and Maximilian University in Munich.
First, the researchers had participants read the drama of Amna Bahrami, an Iranian woman blinded by a rejected fan. The woman demanded that her tormentor reciprocate, in line with the principle: an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Next, the researchers asked the participants to solve a short problem or carefully analyze the story, and then asked them questions about the woman’s drama. They wanted to know if they thought Amna Bahrami did the right thing to demand revenge. Respondents, who did not have time to think, agreed that the victim should punish her executioner for what he had done to her. Intuitively and impulsively, they were more likely to support the woman’s behavior than when analyzing the situation.
It may be because of our past. Evolutionary revenge allowed to deter and discourage people from similar actions. On the other hand, in popular culture, revenge is usually presented as desirable. The person who takes revenge feels relieved and healed. And since revenge is presented in culture as something desirable, even every day, as well as a pleasant feeling, we became convinced that revenge would be sweet, but research shows that it’s not quite right – says Carolina Deedoch-Hazar.
People are convinced that revenge will make them feel better, make them feel good, but often the opposite is true. When they get revenge, they begin to think about the person they offended. The paradox of revenge is that, on the one hand, we believe that harming people is not moral, but on the other hand, we feel that revenge will give us pleasure and thus help us forget the harm done to us – explains Carolina Deedoch-Hazar.
Another theory was put forward by David Chester of Virginia Commonwealth University in the United States. Show that revenge is associated with pleasure, and if it tastes good, why not try to harm the executioner again. According to research by Ernst Wehr of the University of Zurich, when punishment is applied, the areas of the brain responsible for feeling happy are activated. Using positron emission tomography, the scientist scanned the brains of men who were asked to invest money. If a player makes a selfish decision, then instead of making a decision that is beneficial to all participants in the game, other participants in the experience can punish him. They did it with pleasure.
Combining these two concepts is the model of bitter revenge that Fadi Aida and his colleagues from Seattle University introduced a few years ago. After revenge, we still feel bad, but there is satisfaction, contentment, or pleasure in the short term. And since there was a positive feeling and the balance was leveled, perhaps the aggrieved person will be able to forgive the oppressor – explains Carolina Didoch-Hazar.
The closer a person is to us, the easier it is to reconcile. Johan Kremans of Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, who read people’s stories about various crimes and asked them if the perpetrators would forgive. If the name of a loved one is shown subliminally during the reading, the participant is more likely to forgive than not showing any pictures.
Sadism and narcissism
Revenge is a common feeling. However, not all people get revenge. – This may be due to the fear that the person who takes revenge will be considered immoral and others will not want to associate with him anymore – the psychiatrist believes. The approach to revenge depends on personality traits. There are more and more people taking revenge. There are those who forgive quickly, do not think about the mistakes they have suffered, and who will take every opportunity to return.
There is also a lot of research linking narcissism to revenge. When narcissistic people are provoked, they often react aggressively. They interpret this situation as hostile to them and feel that their ego is threatened. Therefore, they return it to the person who offended them – says Carolina Didush-Hazar. In the past few years, there have also been studies showing that people with sadistic tendencies who hurt others for their own pleasure take revenge. Through revenge, they can also control others. And they don’t think about forgiveness at all.
chance for forgiveness
No matter who we are, forgiveness is not easy. There are many psychological obstacles that prevent us from doing this. This is prolonged negative well-being, a feeling of injustice, a feeling of remorse and resentment – says Carolina Didoch Hazar. Understanding these limitations to reconciliation can be helpful in resolving conflicts. Revenge is a kind of communication with the oppressor. Through revenge we teach the persecutor that his behavior is incorrect and that he must do his duty. We expect him to apologize or atone and show remorse. If the abuser understands why he was being punished and apologizes, there is a chance for reconciliation. Such a message enables the victim – restores her lost respect and reports some kind of moral change in the offender. However, if the tormentor does not show remorse, the damage is still unlocked and it is difficult to forgive – explains the psychologist.
This problem arises in the case of various dramatic events. – For example, when reading reports on armed conflicts, there is often information that the victims are completely unable to move forward. This is because they never heard the words “I’m sorry” from their tormentors. Justice was not served. There is no clear message from the perpetrators that their behavior was bad, unethical and that it shouldn’t have happened anymore, says Carolina Didoch Hazar.
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