YOU'VE been wronged. You are livid. Somebody's gonna pay and payback is gonna be good.
Sweet! Revenge. It has a reputation of being thus. It's true, but revenge is also bitter, according to some nuanced research out of Washington University in St. Louis.
"The bittersweet taste of revenge: On the negative and positive consequences of retaliation" is to be published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
“We show that people express both positive and negative feelings about revenge, such that revenge isn’t bitter, nor sweet, but both,” says one of the researchers, Fade Eadeh, a doctoral student in psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences. “We love revenge because we punish the offending party and dislike it because it reminds us of their original act.”
Their findings replicate those of other revenge studies that show that getting even alternately makes people feel good because it gives them the sense that justice is served. Or worse because it reminds them of the initial wrong. But not until now has a study made the case for both the bitter and sweet nature of revenge.
They further departed from previous research in measuring emotions rather than mood, theorizing that psychologists misleadingly use the terms interchangeably. Researchers' working definition of mood denotes feelings that are gradual and lingering, while emotions are intense and short-lived.
“We believe the reason people might feel good about revenge is because it allows us the opportunity to right a wrong and carry out the goal of punishing a bad guy,” says FE. “In our study, we found that Americans often expressed a great deal of satisfaction from bin Laden’s death, presumably because we had ended the life of a person that was the mastermind behind a terror organization.”
In Rosalyn Falcon Collier's "Forgive and Remember: 33 Classic Stories About Forgiveness," some of the world's most influential writers share experiences with forgiveness and revenge. The book also features films that explore forgiveness.
On the otherhand, Americans were reminded of the tragic events that gave rise to the common phrase, "terror organization."
In this case, perhaps God has the right of it, no?: "Vengeance is mine."
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