Revenge in romantic relationships typically has negative consequences and is considered immoral, but it can also be considered beneficial. Revenge can cause unexpected and unintentional consequences that can be destructive in a relationship, but it can also be constructive and help regulate a relationship. It can encourage empathy and avoid future offences by showing the consequences of when one partner is vengeful. This study intends to analyze the costs and benefits of revenge in romantic relationships.
The participants were assigned to groups that focused on good effects of revenge and bad effects of revenge. All the participants in the study were either in a relationship at the time or had been in one in the past. Almost half of them were still with the partner who had provoked them to get revenge, but most were in a different relationship at the time of the study. During the study, one group of participants was asked to remember a time they acted on the urge to get revenge on their partner, while the other group of participants was asked to remember a time when they felt the urge to get revenge on their partner but didn’t act on it.
The study included two phases of interviews. The first phase had the participant tell a story about a time they got revenge on their partner. In the second phase, the participant was asked a series of thorough questions to draw out any details that they may have left out in the initial telling of their story. After these phases, three coders analyzed the interviews and came up with a summary of the costs and benefits that the participants experienced by getting revenge.
The coders asked the participants to consider what may have been bad about getting revenge on their partner. The participants responded saying that getting revenge felt guilty and immoral, that it diminished their reputation, and that it harmed the relationship between them and their partner. They said that getting revenge had unpredictable consequences and never solved the problem at hand. The coders also asked the participants to consider what may have been good about getting revenge on their partner. They gave diverse responses saying that they felt less frustration towards their partner, more power in the relationship, and that they developed better communication skills. They also said that their partner became more empathetic after experiencing what they had felt.
The majority of the participants described both the costs and the benefits of getting revenge on their partner, but overall, they were significantly more likely to expand on why getting revenge is harmful than to expand on why it is beneficial. This leads me to believe that people are more likely to view the act of getting revenge as distasteful and destructive to their relationship, and that although they may believe that it will help short-term, they know that it won’t benefit the relationship long-term.
This study extends my knowledge into psychology because it describes how a person’s emotions can override what they think is right and wrong. One of the few limitations of this study is that it only considers the effects of mild acts of revenge and does not consider the effects of more severe acts of revenge. Therefore, more studies should be done to compare the severities of revenge and how they affect relationships differently.
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