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Showing posts from October 12, 2013

Reasons to Forgive

Like many other primates, such as chimpanzees and macaques, humans have a strong motivational tendencies to retaliate after being victimized. After any slight, insult, act of aggression or infraction, we seek retribution against those who transgress, committing additional wrongdoings in response. Alas, these reactions generally don't put an end to misdeeds and encroachments; revenge creates a cycle of vengeance, as most acts of retaliation are perceived—by the original transgressors who receive the retribution—as disproportionate, far more painful and harmful than the first offense (which was often caused by carelessness during times of stress, rather than planned.) Consequently a back and forth, tit-for-tat series of retaliations and counter-retaliations ensue (Baumeister, Exline, Sommer 1998).

Given the disastrous results that invariably ensue, all cultures have laws and processes that codify and enact punishment, taking the retaliatory response away from individuals. No cohere…