Swiss study finds revenge 'sweet'

Revenge feels sweet and Swiss researchers are saying they have brain scans to prove it.

    Brain PET scans show revenge to be a satisfying experience

    In a study investigators said might help explain how social norms arose and regulate behaviour, brain centres linked to enjoyment and satisfaction lit up in young men who punished others for cheating them.

    Dominique de Quervain of the University of Zurich and colleagues tested 15 male students, telling them they were doing an economic study.

    The men all sat in positron electron tomography, or PET scanners, that recorded brain activity.

    Study

    In the study published in the journal Science, they paired the men in an exchange of cash. Player A could give all or some of his money to player B, who could then give some or none of it back.

    If the first player gave all his money, the amount was quadrupled and the player B could share the reward with player A. This scenario would obviously benefit both the most, so player A had an incentive to share.

    If player B declined to share, player A could punish him by taking away imaginary points or taking away money.

    "We scanned the subjects' brains while they learned about the defector's abuse of trust and determine the punishment," the researchers wrote.

    Observations

    The PET scans showed a clear pattern of activity in the brain's dorsal striatum, involved in experiencing satisfaction, when one player penalised the other for selfishness.

    This was the case even when player A had to use some of his own money to inflict the punishment.

    "Instead of cold, calculated, reason, it is passion that may plant the seeds of revenge," commented psychologist Brian Knutson of Stanford University in California.

    He likened the feeling to a driver refusing to let another he considers a cheater squeeze in front of him in traffic.

    "After squeezing back the intruder, you can't help but notice a smile creep onto your face," Knutson wrote in a commentary.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Why America's Russia hysteria is dangerous

    Why America's Russia hysteria is dangerous

    The US exaggerating and obsessing about foreign threats seems quite similar to what is happening in Russia.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months