'It's Not About the Money. It's About Sending a Message!': Avengers Want Offenders to Understand the Reason for Revenge

79 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2020 Last revised: 30 Aug 2022

See all articles by Andras Molnar

Andras Molnar

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Shereen Chaudhry

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

George Loewenstein

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

Date Written: August 30, 2022

Abstract

While revenge is typically thought to serve utilitarian goals (deter future offenses) or as an end in itself (restore fairness, equate suffering), we test whether “belief-based” motives also shape revenge behavior. Across four studies—one observational, two hypothetical choice, and one real choice—we find evidence that avengers want the offender to understand why (and sometimes by whom) they are being punished, even when doing so cannot change the offender’s future behavior. Avengers prefer punishments that allow them to communicate the reason to offenders, and they are willing to compromise on distributive justice to do so. Furthermore, avengers are less motivated to cause suffering if offenders remain ignorant of the reason. We explore reasons beyond deterrence that explain why avengers may care about what offenders believe, and also discuss the implications of these motives for organizations.

Keywords: Beliefs, Belief-based utility, Communication, Justice, Morality, Punishment, Revenge

JEL Classification: C70, C91, D03, D63, D82, D83

Suggested Citation

Molnar, Andras and Chaudhry, Shereen and Loewenstein, George F., 'It's Not About the Money. It's About Sending a Message!': Avengers Want Offenders to Understand the Reason for Revenge (August 30, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3524910 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3524910

Andras Molnar (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S Woodlawn Ave
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Shereen Chaudhry

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.chicagobooth.edu/faculty/directory/c/shereen-chaudhry

George F. Loewenstein

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-8787 (Phone)
412-268-6938 (Fax)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
205
Abstract Views
1,434
rank
215,312
PlumX Metrics