Turns out, revenge’s a ‘bittersweet’ symphony

Washington: To get past it or to get even, that is the question. Now, a recent study has suggested that an eye for an eye can end up making us celebrating and feeling worse at the same time.

Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis investigated the emotions associated with revenge. Rather than finding that this dark desire is ‘sweet’ as is often said, they discovered a love-hate relationship.

This suggests that on an emotional level, revenge is a “mixed bag,” rather than being strictly positive or negative.

“We show that people express both positive and negative feelings about revenge, such that revenge isn’t bitter, nor sweet, but both,” said first author Fade Eadeh, because “We love revenge because we punish the offending party and dislike it because it reminds us of their original act.”

The study provides a more nuanced understanding of both the benefits and drawbacks of revenge. Its findings are based on three experiments in which about 200 people in each experiment were asked to fill out online questionnaires rating the intensity of moods and emotions triggered by their reading of brief news accounts, including one that described the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces as a retaliation for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The experiments were designed to explore whether people are right in thinking that revenge has the potential to make them feel good, despite recent research that suggests otherwise.

“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,” Eadeh said. “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.”

The study is forthcoming in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. (ANI)