5 Psychological reasons for revenge and tips to deal with it

By: Sarah Grace

The psychological reasons for revenge are injustice and fairness, emotional catharsis, social influence, perceived threat, and identity and self-worth.

Have you ever wondered why people have a strong desire to see those people suffering who have done wrong to them? Well, it’s human nature to tit for tat. In spite of that, there are numerous psychological reasons for taking revenge.

Revenge… Hmmm, it seems to be the most powerful human emotion. It is a feeling that can destroy relationships and friendships within seconds. Yes, I have indeed seen real-life examples of this. The cycle of revenge has been continuously running in one of our neighbor’s families.

It all started with a small conflict and ended in murders. Now both families have killed around five to six people. All these precious sacrifices can’t sort out the disputes. Even law enforcement agencies can’t put a stop to their ritual.

What is revenge?

Revenge is the urge to see those in pain who have done you wrong. Anger, sadness, or betrayal are all strong emotions that drive this behavior. Revenge is the act of harming or punishing offenders. It often involves a desire to retaliate and regain a sense of justice and equilibrium. 

The person who takes revenge is called the avenger. Revenge is not a new thing. It is as old as human beings. According to the Bible, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a foot for a foot are the rules of justice. Movies and action series boost revenge-seeking behavior. 

Evolutionary studies have shown that the urge to retaliate has been found in chimpanzees and baboons. They have an aggressive nature that is thought to be linked with the psych of human emotions. As per Francis Bacon “A man who studieth revenge keeps his ownnds green.”

What happens to the brain during revenge?

During revenge, the brain undergoes complex neurological changes. The amygdala, responsible for processing emotions like anger and fear, becomes highly active, triggering the release of stress hormones. 

The prefrontal cortex, associated with decision-making and impulse control, may experience reduced activity, leading to impulsive behavior.

Additionally, the brain’s reward system, including the release of dopamine, may be activated, providing a temporary sense of satisfaction. These neurological processes collectively contribute to the intense emotional and behavioral responses observed during acts of revenge.

The psychological reasons for revenge

The psychological reasons for revenge are quite complex. In today’s post we will explore various reasons. However, the situation can be case-sensitive depending on individual circumstances.

1. Injustice and fairness 

Humans are naturally aggressive towards injustice and inequality. They feel angry when injustice happens. There are some standards of right and wrong set by our society. Even every individual has a concept of right and wrong.

Injustice happens when someone tries to violate this sense of right and wrong. Sometimes the authorities can’t maintain the law order situation. The feelings of people are hurt in this regard. They tend to restore the balance with vengeance.

People take revenge because of the sense of sweetness. They feel a temporary relief after retribution. But it doesn’t reduce their pain. Instead, it increases their pain. 

2. Emotional catharsis

Emotional catharsis is another psychological reason why people seek revenge. When individuals experience intense emotions, like anger, hurt, or frustration, the desire for an emotional release becomes powerful.

Seeking revenge can provide a temporary outlet for these pent-up feelings, offering emotional relief. The act of retaliation is perceived as a way to purge the negative emotions that have been building up. 

It provides people with a little escape from the severe intensity of their feelings. However, it’s crucial to note that while revenge might offer a fleeting emotional catharsis, it rarely leads to long-term satisfaction or resolution. 

In many cases, the aftermath may bring more complexities, emphasizing the importance of healthier coping mechanisms for emotional well-being.

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3. Social influence

Social influence plays a significant role in driving the psychological reasons for revenge. Humans are inherently influenced by the societies they inhabit, and revenge can be fueled by societal norms and expectations. 

When individuals witness others seeking revenge for perceived wrongs, it creates a ripple effect, normalizing the idea that retaliation is an acceptable response. The desire for social validation and acceptance can push individuals towards seeking revenge as a way to align with societal expectations. 

People who are afraid of coming out as helpless or inactive may decide to handle things on their own. This social influence can create a cycle where revenge becomes a learned behavior, perpetuating a community pattern.

Moreover, the need for belonging and approval can drive individuals to conform to the revenge-seeking behavior prevalent in their social circles. This conformity amplifies the psychological reasons for revenge, making it not only a personal quest for justice but also a social one. 

Understanding the impact of social influence on revenge is crucial in breaking the cycle and fostering healthier ways of addressing conflicts within communities.

4. Perceived threat 

Perceived threat is a powerful psychological motivator behind seeking revenge. When individuals feel threatened, whether physically, emotionally, or socially, the instinct for self-preservation kicks in.

Revenge becomes a perceived solution to neutralise the threat and regain a sense of safety and control. The human brain is always alert and connected to  immediate response in case of any danger. Whenever the human faces  the threat conditions, the brain immediately activates/initiates fight or flight response in return.

In the context of revenge, the fight response prevails, as individuals believe that retaliating against the source of the perceived threat will restore their security. Our evolutionary past is intricately linked to this innate response. We make quick decisions when facing danger that is often necessary for survival.

Perceived threats can range from personal attacks to challenges against one’s beliefs or values. The desire for revenge emerges as a defense mechanism, driven by the need to eliminate the perceived threat and safeguard one’s well-being. 

However, it’s crucial to recognize that revenge, while offering a temporary sense of relief, often fails to address the root causes of the perceived threat, highlighting the importance of alternative approaches to conflict resolution.

5. Identity and self-worth

Revenge often boils down to our sense of identity and self-worth. When someone harms us, it can feel like an attack on our identity. Seeking revenge becomes a way to recover our personality and prove our worth. 

It’s like saying, “I won’t let this define me; I’ll show that I’m strong and worthy of respect.” This quest for retribution can provide a temporary boost to our self-esteem. It’s not just about getting back at someone; it’s about reaffirming our value in the face of adversity.

However, it’s crucial to realize that revenge isn’t a sustainable solution for long-term happiness. Building a resilient sense of self-worth independent of others’ actions leads to a more fulfilling and peaceful life. 

So, while the impulse for revenge may stem from a desire to protect our identity, finding healthier ways to affirm our self-worth ultimately brings greater satisfaction.

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Consequences of revenge 

a. Escalation of Conflict:

Revenge often leads to a cycle of tit-for-tat actions, escalating the conflict. Retaliation can amplify initial issues, making resolution more challenging.

b. Strained Relationships:

Seeking revenge strains relationships as trust erodes. Emotional wounds deepen, hindering the possibility of reconciliation.

c. Legal Repercussions:

Actions driven by revenge may have legal consequences. Retaliatory behaviors can result in legal troubles and further complications.

d. Unfulfilled Satisfaction:

The expected satisfaction from revenge is often fleeting. Instead of relief, one may experience lingering emotional turmoil and regret.

How to deal with revenge?

1. Reflect on Emotions:

  • Pause and understand your feelings of anger or hurt before acting on revenge.
  • Reflecting allows for a more thoughtful response, avoiding impulsive actions.

2. Choose Forgiveness:

  • Consider forgiveness as a powerful alternative to revenge.
  • The burden of seeking revenge is lifted when you let go of bitterness.

3. Communication:

  • Engage in open and honest communication to address the underlying issues.
  • Dialogues help in finding resolutions and preventing further escalation.

4. Seek Support:

  • Consult with specialists, friends, or family for advice and emotional support.
  • Seeking assistance provides alternative perspectives and coping strategies.

5. Focus on Personal Growth:

  • Put negative energy into personal development and progress.
  • Investing in your well-being helps shift focus away from revenge and towards positive development.


Thus, we have covered the psychology of revenge in great detail throughout this post. The causes and desires behind revenge can lead to many negative situations. Recognizing these causes can help ensure the development of a strong, moral society. This article is only for educational purposes. If you are facing serious issues, then do must consult any professional help.


What emotion causes revenge?

The emotion that often causes revenge is anger. When individuals feel wronged, betrayed, or hurt, a surge of anger can drive the desire for retaliation or revenge as a way to address perceived injustices and restore a sense of justice or equilibrium.

Is revenge an act of selfishness?

Revenge is selfish, driven by personal emotions and a desire for satisfaction, often neglecting broader consequences.

What type of personality seeks revenge?

Individuals with a vindictive personality often seek revenge. Traits like impulsivity, high levels of aggression, and a tendency to hold grudges can contribute to a person’s inclination to retaliate against perceived wrongs.

What is the best revenge according to psychology?

Psychologically, the best revenge is personal growth and success. Focusing on self-improvement and happiness independently from those who wronged you is a healthier and more fulfilling response.

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I'm a researcher with a deep passion for understanding the complexities of the mind. My background in psychology and years spent analyzing research have equipped me with the knowledge to translate complex concepts into practical tools for self-help and mental well-being. I'm driven by a desire to empower individuals to navigate life's challenges and cultivate emotional health.

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