19 January 2006

Male Schadenfreude

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." That's a quotable quote from the gentle revolutionary Mahatma Gandhi. Like him, I have never seen anything positive in revenge. A recent study says otherwise.
Men appear to get greater satisfaction than women from witnessing painful retribution, according to a brain scanner study published today.

In women, the same pain regions of their brains were activated when they saw one of the actors get a shock as when they got a shock themselves; it was as if they actually felt the other person's pain.

But in men, these pain areas were not activated and instead, the pleasure centres of their brains lit up, meaning that they got pleasure, or at least satisfaction, from seeing the other person get a shock. "They expressed more desire for revenge and seemed to feel satisfaction when unfair people were given what they perceived as deserved physical punishment," said Dr Singer.

[Telegraph , 19 Jan 2006]

Dr Tania Singer, lead author of the study said that "we empathise with others if they act fairly.....but in contrast, selfish and unfair behaviour compromises this empathetic link."

And, between men and women, men enjoy it more seeing the cheats punished. Hmmmm....I wonder how this male schadenfreude relates to the ever-volatile local political picture.

5 reactions:

may said...

i think it is a coincidence. you know, when the study population just happened to be like that. for all we know, they studied four men and when three had that reaction, it's 75%, what do you think doc?...just curious:)

Dr. Emer said...

That's a good point, May. Dr. Singer had 32 volunteers in this study. I think she will agree with your observation. She was quoted to have said that the results of the study need to be verified in larger studies.

Duke said...

That quote of Gandhi is actually one of Albert Einstein's favorite!

True. they shoudl try this test with a larger number of participants. There acn be other factors to consider such as demographics, age etc...

beajerry said...

Eloquent quote and great post!

bayibhyap said...

Eeven if men do derive greater satisfaction from an act of revenge, I believe it is generally true that as men grow older the fire for revenge dulls. We often say that men mellow with age. A nicer way of saying it is that men mature with age but it is true that they gain less satisfaction from revenge as they grow older.

It is said that though women are less likely to gain satisfaction from revenge, heven forbid if they are provoked to the point when they want revenge! There is nothing more dangerous than such a creature! :)