|Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2006), 29:3:224-225 Cambridge University Press|
Copyright © 2006 Cambridge University Press
Cruelty may be a self-control device against sympathy
Dispassionate cruelty and the euphoria of hunting or battle should be distinguished from the emotional savoring of victims' suffering. Such savoring, best called negative empathy, is what puzzles motivational theory. Hyperbolic discounting theory suggests that sympathy with people who have unwanted but seductive traits creates a threat to self-control. Cruelty to those people may often be the least effortful way of countering this threat.