What happens to our brains when we seek revenge? Here’s why revenge might actually leave you feeling worse, rather than better.
The Complicated Psychology Of Revenge
“A few years ago a group of Swiss researchers scanned the brains of people who had been wronged during an economic exchange game. These people had trusted their partners to split a pot of money with them, only to find that the partners had chosen to keep the loot for themselves. The researchers then gave the people a chance to punish their greedy partners, and for a full minute, as the victims contemplated revenge, the activity in their brains was recorded.”
Make No Mistake, Revenge is (Bitter) Sweet
“Deep, dark and sometimes overwhelming, the human compulsion to seek revenge is a complex emotion that science has found incredibly hard to explain. Despite popular consensus that “revenge is sweet,” years of experimental research have suggested otherwise, finding that revenge is seldom as satisfying as we anticipate and often leaves the avenger less happy in the long run.”
The Paradoxical Consequences Of Revenge
“People expect to reap hedonic rewards when they punish an offender, but in at least some instances, revenge has hedonic consequences that are precisely opposite to those that people expect. Three studies showed that: (a) one reason for this is that people who punish continue to ruminate about the offender, whereas those who do not punish “move on” and think less about the offender, and; (b) people fail to appreciate the different affective consequences of witnessing and instigating punishment.”
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