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Eder, Andreas B., Mitschke, Vanessa and Gollwitzer, Mario ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4310-4793 (2020): What stops revenge taking? Effects of observed emotional reactions on revenge seeking. In: Aggressive Behavior, Vol. 46, No. 4: pp. 305-316 [PDF, 1MB]

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What reaction stops revenge taking? Four experiments (total N = 191) examined this question where the victim of an interpersonal transgression could observe the offender's reaction (anger, sadness, pain, or calm) to a retributive noise punishment. We compared the punishment intensity selected by the participant before and after seeing the offender's reaction. Seeing the opponent in pain reduced subsequent punishment most strongly, while displays of sadness and verbal indications of suffering had no appeasing effect. Expression of anger about a retributive punishment did not increase revenge seeking relative to a calm reaction, even when the anger response was disambiguated as being angry with the punisher. It is concluded that the expression of pain is the most effective emotional display for the reduction of retaliatory aggression. The findings are discussed in light of recent research on reactive aggression and retributive justice.

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