Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Desire for vengeance

What is the experiental content of desire for vengeance and how does it contribute to actual revenge?

Elise Seip

Desire for vengeance is elicited in response to unfair treatment or when one’s self-worth is threatened.  It evokes action tendencies to impose suffering on those who have made us suffer. It is an emotion that motivates revenge, but not necessarily leads to actual taking revenge.  The question remains what predicts revenge behavior. The norm supported by a social environment is likely to have an influence on whether someone takes revenge. When it is more accepted—or even expected—to take revenge people might be more likely to actually take revenge. People who are especially influenced by the social norm of their group are people from honor cultures. For them it is important to maintain, and when needed, restore a positive self-image, both for themselves and for the group, since their image reflects on the image of the group. In this research we examine the influence of a pro-revenge norm that on revenge behavior.

In addition, we investigate the bittersweet nature of revenge behavior. Avengers experience satisfaction, but also shame and guilt. Revenge, therefore, seems to be a mixed blessing.

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