UCL School of Management

Research seminar

Professor Gabrielle Adams, Darden School of Business


Friday, 12 April 2024
11:00 – 12:30
Research Group
Organisations and Innovation

UCL School of Management is delighted to welcome, Professor Gabrielle Adams, Darden School of Business, to host a research seminar discussing “An Eyelash for an Eye: Understanding the Motivation for and Consequences of Petty Revenge”


A central principle in retributive justice is that revenge should be proportional to the original transgression. It seems logical, then, that victims who enact revenge that is less than proportional to the original transgression should feel that justice has not been restored and should feel dissatisfied. In the current paper, we challenge this assumption. Across four experiments, we investigate the phenomenon of “petty revenge” - defined as less-than-proportional retaliation to another’s perceived harm. We investigate its antecedents and find that victims enact petty revenge when they face constraints in their ability to pursue punishment through formal channels. We also investigate the consequences of petty revenge in two scenario studies as well as a lab study in which victims pay their transgressors in pennies rather than dollar bills. Victims who enact petty revenge (vs. no revenge) experienced increased schadenfreude and are less likely to ruminate about the offense. Moreover, compared to proportional revenge, avengers who enact petty revenge experience less guilt and are less likely to avoid their transgressors. We discuss the implications of this work for justice restoration and avengers’ relational and emotional goals in organizational and interdependent contexts.

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Last updated Thursday, 21 March 2024