The Revenge Paradox


Contrary to Popular Belief, Revenge Does Not Make People Feel Better

This interesting article from the Monitor on Psychology reports some interesting research about revenge.  The main point that stood out to me, was that although research subjects predicted they would feel better if given an opportunity for revenge, measures showed that it actually made them feel worse than those subjects who did not get this opportunity.

Betrayal, Anger and Revenge

The study was based on an investment scenario, in which secret experimenters pretended to be one of the subjects.  These plants intentionally betrayed their groups, and then some groups were given an opportunity to exact revenge, and some were not.  Their resulting emotions were then measured, showing that the groups who did not exact revenge felt better in the end. The authors stated that:

By exacting revenge, people think more about the person and the event, “Rather than providing closure, it does the opposite:  It keeps the wound open and fresh.”

Cultural Differences in Revenge

The article also discusses some interesting cultural differences affecting revenge.

American students feel more offended when their rights are violated, whereas Korean students feel more offended when their sense of duty and obligation is threatened… to collectivists, shame to someone with a shared identity is considered an injury to one’s self…as a result… revenge is more contagious in collectivist cultures.

… anger often drives the vengeful feelings of people in individualistic cultures, while shame powers revenge in collectivist ones.

Revenge and Justice

The article goes on to discuss the relationship between revenge and justice:  “If revenge doesn’t make us feel any better, why do we seek it?” (Click to read entire article on revenge)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park (60477); near Oak Forest, Orland Park, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.

Categories : Relationships

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