Spite Me


NY Times: Spite is Good. Spite Works:

…Evolutionary theorists have long been intrigued by the origins and purpose of spite, and a new report suggests that sometimes spite can make right.

…The new research on spite transcends older notions that we are savage, selfish brutes at heart, as well as more recent suggestions that humans are inherently affiliative creatures yearning to love and connect. Instead, it concludes that vice and virtue, like the two sides of a V, may be inextricably linked.

…human decency and cooperation require a certain degree of so-called altruistic punishment: the willingness of some individuals to punish rule breakers even when the infraction does not directly affect them — challenging the guy who broke into the line behind you, for example.

…“It could be that Nietzsche was right about punishment,” Dr. Forber said, “that it originated as spite and only later was turned into a mechanism for maintaining fairness and justice.”

“…If you get the reputation as someone not to mess with and nobody messes with you going forward, then it was well worth the cost.”

“…It’s like the Mafia,” he said. “They end up reducing crime in the areas they inhabit.”

Read full article in NY Times: Spite is Good. Spite Works.



  1. So, it’s ok to lead my abuser over the edge of a cliff? 😀


  2. So the Mafia is a “good” thing? I love this, especially since I’m half Italian. LOL It’s true, the crime rate does drop, when they’re around and it’s great not to have people mess with you. I always thought spite was a mean thing. Revenge always seemed like the way to go. Revenge is just a way to balance things. Someone does something, you get them. I’m from Chicago…that’s the way we play it. Everybody knows that. That doesn’t necessarily mean a fish wrapped in newspaper on the doorstep but payback is a real thing…that’s only fair play. LOL 🙂


  3. Interesting!


  4. can’t bring myself to buy a ticket on the spite train. (and i’m half italian too). i’m holding out for karma.


  5. Really interesting – and short-sighted..It doesn’t stop with the spiteful act, banging one’s chest like a silver-backed gorilla so no one messes with you…it just gets bigger, the spiteful acts uglier, the actions more severe to ensure that kind of self-protection – and as such doesn’t end. And that makes for a pretty unpleasant way to live I think..


    • So basically, you are dismissing the findings and its benefits to society?


      • Laughing – far be it for me to dismiss the findings of a study (tho’ I submit that there are probably studies out there that refute the hypothesis anyway) – I just think it’s limited. It suggests that there’s an end to spitefulness – establish yourself as someone not to be screwed with (a good thing in and of itself) and so the cycle ends. But it doesn’t end there – it escalates. And therein is my discomfort ..


  6. At least now I know why it bugs me so much when people cut in line.


  7. Like two sides of a road, it’s just as effective to drive off the right side of a road as to drive into the ditch on the left. Neither get us too far.


  8. Ned Quinn says:

    Very good and humurous


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: