“Righteous” Anger and Revenge in the Workplace: The Fantasies, the Feuds, the Forgiveness



Revenge is part of the social fabric of organizational life. For many, revenge is typically viewed as an irrational, if not evil, response, to events in the workplace. However, there is an emerging scholarly view of revenge that departs from that conventional wisdom. This view is what we refer to as “revenge as justice.” In this chapter, we review a growing body of research across academic disciplines that finds the motivation for revenge is, more often than not, grounded in a perception that one has been the victim of undeserved harm and feelings of injustice. Drawing on empirical findings, we argue that revenge is not motivated by mere anger grounded in frustration, but a righteous anger, an emotional response to correct and prevent injustice. As such, revenge is central to the process of justice in organizations. While righteous anger is core variable in our analysis, we illustrate how cognitive mistakes and biases can shape the emotion of righteous anger and the act of revenge. Finally, we argue that there is a rationality and morality to revenge, which must be understood through emotional lens of righteous anger.


Organizational Justice Confirmation Bias Trait Anger Moral Righteousness Attribution Style 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Washington State University at VancouverVancouverUSA
  2. 2.Georgetown UniversityGeorgetownUSA

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