What gives victims satisfaction when they seek revenge?



The present paper aims to elucidate under what conditions victims of injustice who seek revenge feel satisfied and perceive that everybody got what he or she deserved. Two hypotheses are discussed: The comparative suffering hypothesis states that seeing the offender suffer from fate is sufficient for evoking satisfaction and perceptions of deservingness among victims. The understanding hypothesis states that revenge can only be satisfactory when the offender understands it as a response to his or her prior behavior. These hypotheses were tested in three experimental studies. The comparative suffering hypothesis received only weak support. The understanding hypothesis, on the other hand, received much stronger support: When the offender understood revenge as punishment, revenge led to satisfaction and deservingness among victims. These findings are discussed with regard to the question why people take revenge. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.