Bystanders may be more likely to punish bullies than help victims

Punishing bad behavior can feel good, honorable and righteous. According to new research, the impulse to punish a perpetrator may be even more powerful than the desire to help those who were hurt. A study co-authored by University of Chicago psychologists found that third parties who observe social rejection are more inclined to punish the perpetrators than they are to help the victims. Even among those who reported a history of being bullied, study participants appeared more motivated by “empathetic anger” at the perpetrator than by sympathy for the victim.

 

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