Being vengeful is a common trait of people. If someone did something bad to us and we were powerless to stop it, we often confront with a desire to revenge. Familiar expression “revenge is a dish best served cold” are frequently used in those moments. We believe the revenge is sweet. Was it relief, a sense of justice, or the simple pleasure of revenge? Well, a new study reveals what happens in our brain during this intense feeling.


If you’re a power-seeker, revenge can serve to remind others you’re not to be trifled with. If you live in a society where the rule of law is weak, revenge provides a way to keep order.

Mood Balance

At some moment of your life, you certainly were hurt, cheated, betrayed. Basically, any action from another person that cause you pain or sense of injustice. These feelings were especially enhanced if were caused by someone close to you. Soon after the first shock, probably the most of us felt that powerful internal force arises in us. The force that drives us to strike back. This inner, dark feeling is revenge. Moreover, we tend to believe that the revenge will give us a sense of sweetness and relief.

Scientists from the University of Kentucky conducted research on revenge pleasure. During the experiment, they used voodoo dolls. So, what they did? Scientists divide participants into two group: regular and sneaky group. They asked 156 of them to write an essay on a free topic and then to exchange essays for receiving feedback. The catch was the fact that one of the researchers pretended that he is a participant, which task was to give an awful feedback to the most of them.

Participants were given virtual voodoo dolls, which reminded on a “false participant” – researcher to express their anger. Before they got permission to poke the doll with needles, their mood was measured. The results showed next:┬áNot only that the mood of participants, who received bad feedback, improved after stabbing a doll, but their mood was so increased that they were happier than those who have received a good feedback.

Stubbing the dolls bring so much happiness to the participants, that they were happier than the one not affected by bad feedback

A similar experiment was conducted with video games and this time was used pills as a placebo that supposedly held their feelings stable regardless of anything that ( unfair ) happens. The results were pretty much the same, with one exception. Those who took the placebo pills didn’t see the sense of revenge, thinking that their feelings ( thanks to the pill ) will remain the same.

Based on these experiments, scientist drew a conclusion. We, indeed, feel more satisfied when we revenge as this is our conscious need to fix injustice and fight back pain. With revenge, we achieve mood balance.