Is Revenge Really So Bad?

How can I become rich? These days, motivational speakers and meditators tend to suggest obvious answers like “Be positive” or “Believe in yourself”. Economists do nothing more than list figures or theories that are difficult to understand. But Suh Yoon is unlike any other. She has linked mental problems with the real world for the first time and clarified the correlations between emotion, good fortune, and wealth. As a result, she is now letting us in on these remarkable secrets. Anyone can become rich with the right mindset! YooooN Magazine introduces its “Money Mindset” series. We too can read these articles, follow Suh Yoon’s teachings, and lead wealth and good fortune to ourselves.

-Editor’s Note


YouTuber Krispyshorts had been stuck for over two hours in an airplane that hadn’t even taken off. It was only after several hours that an announcement was made saying that the passengers had to transfer to another airplane. That sparked a 9 minute, 10 second video.

Krispyshorts went on to record in detail the frustrations endured by his fellow passengers in the airport. The information provided in the screens was always wrong. Airline employees shouted at or were indifferent to complaining passengers. The passengers were unable to board by midnight and had to go to a hotel. At the end of the video, Krispyshorts berated the airline for its “terrible, terrible performance”.

The video garnered over two million views and 7000 comments. If Krispyshorts wanted to get revenge on the airline, he certainly succeeded. But was this really a rational method? This man spent time and effort to make, edit, and upload his video. He didn’t get any apology or tangible reward for doing so. From an economic point of view, did this really make sense?

Let’s consider an experiment done by Ernst Fehr et al. They investigated the nature of revenge through a “trust game”. Participant A entered a room alone and received $10, then had to make a choice:

  • Keep the money for him/herself. The game ends.
  • Give the money to B in another room. In this case, the experimenter would give another $40 to B, who also started with $10, so B got $50 in all.

Now the ball is in B’s court, and B has two further options:

  • Keep the $50 for him/herself.
  • Return $25, half the money, to A.

But there was one thing B didn’t know. If B took all the money, A could use A’s own money to enact revenge on B. They experimenters would take away from B twice the amount of money A put down.

The results showed that many participants chose to spend their own money to retaliate even without any tangible reward for it, even severely punishing other players. What’s also interesting is that while getting revenge, the activity level increased in one part of their brains—the same part of the brain that is active when receiving a reward. The researchers concluded that revenge brings considerable happiness and emotional rewards.

Actually, the wise always advise against revenge. Mark Twain said, “Therein lies the defect of revenge… the thing itself is a pain.” Similarly, Albert Schweitzer warned, “Revenge… is like a rolling stone, which, when a man hath forced it up a hill, will return upon him with a greater violence, and break those bones whose sinews gave it motion.”

But do we really need to repress our vengeance, as these writers suggested? After all, it also brings us great joy and reward. Some people even use their vengeful spirits productively, such as Jeffrey Katzenberg, who founded DreamWorks and made Shrek after being laid off from Walt Disney. The movie ridiculed Disney and struck a blow against the company who had fired Katzenberg. It was a worldwide success and earned $280,000,000. Revenge brought Katzenberg not only emotional rewards, but also wealth and good fortune.

Suh Yoon's Quotes

“If you need to get revenge, do it creatively to bring three times as much mental pain to the person who wronged you.”
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