People who enjoy hurting others and seeing them in pain are more likely to seek revenge against those who have wronged them, according to a new study
The study found that sadism is the dominant personality trait that explains why certain people are more likely than others to seek vengeance.
“We wanted to paint a picture of the personality of the type of person who seeks revenge. We’re all slighted in our daily lives, but some of us seek revenge and some of us do not. So what kind of person is the person who seeks vengeance?” said David Chester, assistant professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University in the US.
“The core of what we found is that the person who seeks revenge is a person who tends to enjoy it,” Chester added.
In the study, to be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Aggressive Behaviour, the team conducted three studies involving 673 students.
They were asked to say whether they agree or disagree to a variety of statements, such as “Anyone who provokes me deserves the punishment that I give” and “If I’m wronged, I can’t live with myself until I revenge”.
By gaining a deeper understanding of what drives certain people to seek revenge, the researchers could create profiles that could be used to identify those who are most likely to commit violence in the future and intervene.
“Not everyone when they’re wronged goes out and shoots up a school. Not everyone when they’re wronged starts a bar fight. But some people do. So identifying who is most at risk for seeking revenge is really important to do in order to intervene before they engage in harmful acts and start to hurt other people in retaliation,” Chester said.
“Our real world goal is to reduce violence and to reduce aggressive behaviour. The most common form of that is revenge.”