Washington, Sep 13: Sadism is much more common than people would like to believe, a new research has suggested.
Two studies led by psychological scientist Erin Buckels of the University of British Columbia revealed that people who score high on a measure of sadism seem to derive pleasure from behaviours that hurt others, and are even willing to expend extra effort to make someone else suffer.
Buckels and colleagues Delroy Paulhus of the University of British Columbia and Daniel Jones of the University of Texas El Paso decided to examine everyday sadism under controlled laboratory conditions. They recruited 71 participants to take part in a study on 'personality and tolerance for challenging jobs.'
Participants were asked to choose among several unpleasant tasks: killing bugs, helping the experimenter kill bugs, cleaning dirty toilets, or enduring pain from ice water.
The participant's job was to drop the bugs into the machine, force down the cover, and 'grind them up.'
Of the 71 participants, 26.8 percent chose to help kill bugs and the highest scores on a scale measuring sadistic impulses, just as the researchers predicted.
Participants with high levels of sadism who chose to kill bugs reported taking significantly greater pleasure in the task than those who chose another task, and their pleasure seemed to correlate with the number of bugs they killed, suggesting that sadistic behaviour may hold some sort of reward value for those participants.
And a second study revealed that, of the participants who rated high on one of the "dark" personality traits, only sadists chose to intensify blasts of white noise directed at an innocent opponent when they realized the opponent wouldn't fight back.
The findings have been published in Psychological Science. (ANI)