Published Sep 2020
Why do we cut off our noses to spite our faces?
A leading expert in psychology shines a light on a universal emotion.
If someone had a pot of money to share and offered you a measly amount, what would you do? Most people, given the option, turn down the free money and burn the lot…
This behaviour – spite – baffles and intrigues. But it seems to be fundamental to human nature.
Spite examines why humans inflict self-harm just to get one over on someone else. Why do we secretly want our friends to fail? Here you’ll find irresistible stories of toxic behaviour in supermarkets and over the privet hedge, ramping up to incendiary divorces, vicious business practices, backbiting politics, scorched earth terrorism, Trump and Brexit. Was Trump elected because people voted for him in order to spite Hillary Clinton?
There’s a hopeful message too – the upside of our dark side. Spite can drive us forward, and Simon McCarthy-Jones provides a fresh perspective on the word by showing the evolutionary benefits of spite as a social leveller, an enabler of defiance, a wellspring of freedom and a vital weapon in our everyday armoury.