Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

When harm done can never be balanced: Vicarious revenge and the death of Osama bin Laden

Date:
April 29, 2014
Source:
Society for Personality and Social Psychology
Summary:
Friday will mark the third anniversary of Osama bin Laden's assassination, a day when President Barack Obama famously stated 'Justice has been done.' But has it? A new study has questioned whether this instance of vicarious revenge led to feelings of satisfaction and reestablished justice within the American public, including whether bin Laden's assassination ignited craving for more revenge.

Friday will mark the third anniversary of Osama bin Laden's assassination, a day when U.S. President Barack Obama famously stated "Justice has been done." But has it? A new study from a team of social psychology researchers led by Mario Gollwitzer of Philipps University of Marburg, has questioned whether this instance of vicarious revenge led to feelings of satisfaction and reestablished justice within the American public, including whether bin Laden's assassination ignited craving for more revenge.

Justice achieved

Vicarious revenge, where the need for justice is felt not by the victims, but by people in the same group, has been shown to feel similar to personal revenge. Gollwitzer and his team developed two studies designed to test the notion "that Americans' vengeful desires in the aftermath of 9/11 predicted a sense of justice achieved after bin Laden's death…"

The data suggest that those Americans who believed that bin Laden's assassination sent a message to the perpetrators ("Don't mess with us") were also the ones who thought that his death balanced the scales of justice.

The second important finding from the study is that bin Laden's death did not fully quench Americans' desire for revenge. Respondents who showed a stronger sense of "justice achieved" also showed a stronger desire to take further revenge against those who were responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Although justice might be achieved, the avengers might not feel psychological closure. Reestablishing justice, successfully asserting one's message, does not necessarily close the chapter in the case of revenge.

The "how" matters

The third important finding presented shows that Americans were more satisfied with fact that bin Laden was killed intentionally than the possibility of bin Laden being killed accidentally (e.g., in an airplane crash). Compared to self-reported responses from Pakistanis or Germans, Americans felt much more satisfaction towards the death of bin Laden as it actually happened than towards any other circumstance of his death.

Gollwitzer and his team believe that this difference in "intent" reflects the fact that Americans were the victims of 9/11, whereas Germans, for example, merely observed these events, but were not directly involved in them.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Gollwitzer, L. J. Skitka, D. Wisneski, A. Sjostrom, P. Liberman, S. J. Nazir, B. J. Bushman. Vicarious Revenge and the Death of Osama bin Laden. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2014; 40 (5): 604 DOI: 10.1177/0146167214521466

Cite This Page:

Society for Personality and Social Psychology. "When harm done can never be balanced: Vicarious revenge and the death of Osama bin Laden." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140429085606.htm>.
Society for Personality and Social Psychology. (2014, April 29). When harm done can never be balanced: Vicarious revenge and the death of Osama bin Laden. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140429085606.htm
Society for Personality and Social Psychology. "When harm done can never be balanced: Vicarious revenge and the death of Osama bin Laden." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140429085606.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins