Although people expect to soothe hurt feelings, acquire hedonistic rewards and bring relief to feelings of discomfort when they retaliate against their offender, self-report studies indicate that revenge does not elicit a positive affect. On the other hand, growing body of research on retaliatory aggression shows that revenge is a pleasant experience that decreases negative physiological arousal and activates the brain regions associated with reward processing.
My research project examines the proposition that both findings may be true. People may differ with respect to how strongly they hold the belief in the hedonistic function of revenge – how much they are convinced that retaliatory actions will make them feel good. This belief motivates aggressive retaliation and people who believe that revenge is sweet experience both immediate and prolonged hedonic response to retaliation more strongly than people who do not believe that revenge is sweet. This research may therefore fill in the important gap in our understanding of the consequences of the belief that revenge is sweet.
Currently, I am in the process of preparing HRV studies at SWPS University in Poznan and functional magnetic resonance imaging study at the Social Psychology and Neuroscience Lab at Virginia Commonwealth University.
This research project is funded by both National Science Center in Poland and Polish-American Fulbright Commission.