Current Psychology

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 365–380 | Cite as

Assessing Vindictiveness: Psychological Aspects by a Reliability and Validity Study of the Vengeance Scale in the Italian Context

  • Simona Ruggi
  • Gabriella Gilli
  • Noreen Stuckless
  • Osmano Oasi


Vengeance can be commonly defined as the disposition towards the infliction of harm in return for perceived injury or insult or as simply getting back at another person. This paper describes a contribution to the Italian validation of the Vengeance Scale (Stuckless and Goranson, Journal of social Behavior and Personality 7: 25–42, 1992) following the same steps of the original authors and shows psychological implications of vindictive behavior. 377 under-graduate students responded to the Big Five Questionnaire, State Trait Anger Expression Inventory and a back-translated Italian version of the Vengeance Scale (IVS). The IVS shows good psychometric properties. Convergent validity is shown by correlations with crucially connected variables (anger, empathy, social desirability). Factorial analysis suggested that the IVS is basically a one-dimensional measure. Regression analysis reveals that empathy, anger and emotional stability are significant predictors of vengeance. General results show that the IVS is a good instrument of evaluation of the tendency to be vindictive. Statistic analysis highlights that specific personality traits are involved in vindictive behavior; furthermore the interactions between some features of subject and the environment appear determinant. The implications and utility of the IVS in future research are discussed.


Vindictiveness Anger Personality Vengeance Scale 


  1. Anolli, L. (2011). La sfida della mente multiculturale [The challenge of multicultural mind]. Milan: Raffaello Cortina Editore.Google Scholar
  2. Baumeister, R. (1997). Evil: Inside human violence and cruelty. New York: Freeman & Co.Google Scholar
  3. Bentler, P. M. (1990). Comparative fit indexes in structural models. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 238–246.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bowlby, J. (1973). Attachment and loss: Vol. 2. Separation: Anxiety and anger. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  5. Bowlby, J. (1988). Developmental psychiatry comes of age. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 145, 1–10.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Briggs, S. R., & Cheek, M. J. (1986). The role of factor analysis in the development and evaluation of personality scales. Journal of Personality, 54, 106–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brown, R. (2003). Measuring individual differences in the tendency to sorgive: construct validity and links with depression. Personality and Social Behaviour Bulletin, 29, 759–771.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown, R. (2004). Vengeance is mine: narcissism, vengeance, and the tendency to forgive. Journal of Research in Personality, 38, 576–584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown, M. W., & Cudeck, R. (1993). Alternative ways of assessing model fit. In K. A. Bollen & J. S. Long (Eds.), Testing structural equations models. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. Calati, R., Oasi, O., De Ronchi, D., & Serretti, A. (2010). The use of the defence style questionnaire in major depressive and panic disorders: A comprehensive meta-analysis. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 83, 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Caprara, G.V. (2004). Lesson and digressions from clinical practice. PsycCritiques. Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 2002, 47, 180–184.Google Scholar
  12. Caprara, G. V., Barbaranelli, C., & Borgogni, L. (1993). BFQ: Big five questionnaire. Florence: Organizzazioni Speciali.Google Scholar
  13. Caprara, G. V., Barbaranelli, C., Pastorelli, C., Cermak, I., & Rosza, S. (2001). Facing guilt: role of negative affectivity, need for reparation, and fear of punishment in leading to prosocial behaviour and aggression. European Journal of Personality, 15, 219–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Castelnuovo, G., Gaggioli, A., Mantovani, F., & Riva, G. (2003). From psychotherapy to e-therapy: the integration of traditional techniques and new communication tools in clinical settings. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 6(4), 375–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cattell, R. B. (1966). Handbook of multivariate experimental psychology. Chicago: Rand McNelly & Co.Google Scholar
  16. Cattell, R. B. (1978). The scientific use of factor analysis. New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cloninger, R. (1994). The temperament and character inventory (TCI): A guide to its development and use. St. Louis: Center for Psychobiology of Personality, Washington University.Google Scholar
  18. Cohen, J., & Cohen, P. (1983). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  19. Comrey, A. L. (1967). Tandem criteria for analytic rotation in factor analysis. Psicometrika, 32, 143–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Comrey, A. L., & Lee, H. B. (1992). A first course in factor analysis (2nd ed.). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  21. Comunian, A. L. (1992). STAXI. State Trait Anger Expression Inventory. Versione e Adattamento Italiano. Florence: Organizzazioni Speciali.Google Scholar
  22. Corbetta, P. (1992). Metodi di analisi multivariata per le scienze sociali. Bologna: Il Mulino.Google Scholar
  23. Costa, P. T., Jr., & McCrae, R. R. (1985). The neo personality inventory manual. Odessa: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
  24. Daniels, M. (1969). Pathological vindictiveness and the vindictive character. The Psychoanalitic Review, 56, 169–176.Google Scholar
  25. Eisenberger, R., Lynch, P., Aselage, J., & Rohdieck, S. (2004). Who takes the most revenge? individual differences in negative reciprocity norm endorsement. Personality and Social Behaviour Bulletin, 30, 787–799.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Emmons, R. A. (2000). Personality and forgiveness. In M. E. McCullough, K. I. Pargament, & C. E. Thoresen (Eds.), Forgiveness: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 156–175). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  27. Fabrigar, L. R., Wegener, D. T., MacCallum, R. C., & Strahan, E. J. (1999). Evaluating the use of exploratory factor analysis in psychological research. Psychological Methods, 3, 272–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gouldner, A. W. (1960). The norm of reciprocity: a preliminary statement. American Sociological Review, 25, 161–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Horney, K. (1948). The value of vindictiveness. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 8, 3–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Horney, K. (1950). Neurosis and human growth: The struggle toward self-realization. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. Press.Google Scholar
  31. Jaccard, J., Turrisi, R., & Wau, C. K. (1990). Interaction effects in multiple regression. Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  32. Kancyper, L. (2003). Il risentimento e il rimorso: Uno studio psicoanalitico [The resentment and the remorse: A psychoanalytic study]. Milan: Franco Angeli.Google Scholar
  33. Kernis, M. H., & Sun, C. R. (1994). Narcissism and reactions to interpersonal feedback. Journal of Research in Personality, 28, 4–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kohut, H. (1977). The restoration of the self. New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  35. Lane, R. C. (1995). The revenge motive: a developmental perspective on the life cycle and the treatment process. Psychoanalytic Review, 82, 41–64.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. McCullough, M. E., Bellah, C. G., Kilpatrick, S. D., & Johnson, J. L. (2001). Vengefullness: relationship with forgiveness, rumination, well-being, and the Big Five. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 601–610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McCullough, M. E., Bellah, C. G., Kilpatrick, S. D., & Mooney, C. N. (2003). Narcissists as “Victims”: the role of narcissism in the perception of transgressions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 885–893.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nunnally, J. C. (1978). Psychometric theory (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  39. Oasi, O., & Massaro, F. (2004). Vendicatività e vendetta. Perchè a volte non sappiamo dimenticare [Vindictiveness and Revenge. Why is difficult let go on sometimes?]. Milan: Unicopli.Google Scholar
  40. Socarides, C. W. (1966). On vengeance: the desire to get even. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 14, 356–375.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Spielberger, C. D. (1988). STAXI State-Traite Anger Expression Inventory. Tampa: Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc. (PAR).Google Scholar
  42. Steiner, J. (1993). Psychic retreats. Pathological organizations in psychotic, neurotic and borderline patients. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Stuckless, N., & Goranson, R. (1992). The vengeance scale: development of a measure of attitudes toward revenge. Journal of social Behaviuor and Personality, 7, 25–42.Google Scholar
  44. Traub, R. E. (1994). Reliability for the social sciences. Thousands Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  45. Watson, P. J., Grisham, S. O., Trotter, M. V., & Biderman, M. D. (1984). Narcissism and empathy: validity evidence for the narcissistic personality inventory. Journal of Personality Assessment, 45, 159–162.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simona Ruggi
    • 1
  • Gabriella Gilli
    • 2
  • Noreen Stuckless
    • 3
  • Osmano Oasi
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.e-Campus UniversityNovedrateItaly
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyCatholic University of Sacred HearthMilanItaly
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyCatholic University of Sacred HearthMilanItaly

Personalised recommendations