Bullies May Enjoy Inflicting Pain

Brain scans show agressors feel reward watching others suffer
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2008 12:33 PM CST
Bullies may be wired to enjoy inflicting pain, a study suggests.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – Bullies appear to enjoy seeing other people in pain, Reuters reports. Researchers in Chicago took brain scans of two sample groups of teens while showing them videos of one person hurting another. When showed violence, one group of teens, who were diagnosed with aggressive-conduct disorder and had recently attacked schoolmates, had consistent activity in the brain’s reward centers.

The other group, with no history of aggression, instead has activity in the medial prefrontal cortex—an area associated with self-regulation that is conspicuously inactive in the “bully” group. “It is entirely possible their brains are lighting in the way they are because they experience seeing pain in others as exciting and fun and pleasurable,” said one researcher.