Is Revenge the Right thing to do? A recent study shows how Perception varies for Avengers

Is Revenge the Right thing to do? A recent study shows how Perception varies for Avengers


In a recent study by the Polish Association of Social Psychology, psychologists show how social perception for avengers varies. Taking revenge is mostly considered unethical in most cultures. How do people perceive avengers?

What is revenge? Revenge is simply a desire to harm a person believed to have done something wrong. Revenge is a basic human trait, a child when hit by a peer, the child tries to hit him back to calm himself. People feel taking revenge for small things, like if a colleague doesn’t help, so you don’t revert with help when the colleague needs it. Though it is a part of human social interaction and relationships, revenge to harm others to a severe extent, like physical or giving mental stress is ethically wrong and a sense of guilt cones with it.

Social perception of revenge: Human society in general condemn the idea of revenge. Most structured societies are aligned with a political or authoritative body that acts as the sovereign autonomy of law and order in a society. Still, it is a human tendency to enjoy movies where a protagonist becomes a superhero for taking revenge and providing justice. Revenge at the micro level being a part of our personality, like a person who is said to hold grudges might believe that revenge is healthy. 

Satisfaction vs Pleasure: Avengers who take revenge are considered more morally correct in comparison to avengers who take revenge for pleasure. If a person takes revenge for pleasure, it does not imply that he or she wants to teach a lesson rather, it focuses on personal joy received by seeing the victim in pain. On the other hand, avengers who take revenge for satisfaction are considered more competent, associated with the nature of standing up for themselves. Traits like potential and confidence are directly perceived with such avengers.

Cultural factors: The culture we are brought up in, and our upbringing impact our perception and way of reacting to a condition, be it directly or indirectly. For instance, if the mythological stories that a person hears and believes as a part of a community involve characters that are taking revenge and are glorified, then revenge is not believed to be a wrongdoing. 

For self and others:  Many of the earlier studies have shown that people get soft with a flexible moral compass if the situation is for them. That is, a person may feel less morally wrong if he is the character doing it, whereas for the same or similar situations involving a friend or colleague, the moral compass might get rigid. But here in this study, results were opposite; People felt more morally wrong if they are the avenger instead of another person. 

Why do people take revenge? Revenge might give a feeling of getting rewarded. If a person feels that he is a victim in the situation, he feels agitated for a person or an institution that he believes is the cause of their suffering. Getting revenge is giving back as consequence for what was imparted to him, seeing the cause of suffering in turmoil provides a sense of contentment that he did not deserve what he got.

How to control feelings of revenge? Firstly, to accept that feeling of taking revenge is a normal reaction to suffering where our mind tells us that we don’t deserve this and what should be done about this. Awareness helps to gain a deeper perspective of us and helps in developing efficient coping strategies. After this acknowledgment comes emotional regulation where we should control ourselves in conducting any task that is morally wrong, especially legally and ethically unacceptable. Emotional Regulation in such times of crisis helps to develop our Emotional Quotient with an enhanced personality, in simpler terms, learning our lesson and moving on with it.

Read More about The Psychology Behind Revenge in the Complete article.

Citations +
  • Dyduch-Hazar, K., & Gollwitzer, M. (2024). Feeling Bad About Feeling Good? How Avengers and Observers Evaluate the Hedonic Pleasure of Taking Revenge. Social Psychological Bulletin19, 1-25.
  • Price, M. (n.d.). Revenge and the people who seek it.
  • Jaffe, E. (2011, October 4). The complicated psychology of revenge. Association for Psychological Science – APS.
  • Van Edwards, V. (2023, November 7). The Psychology of Revenge: Why It’s Secretly Rewarding. Science of People.

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