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Why is destruction so satisfying? © Getty

Why is destruction so satisfying?

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Controlling the destruction of something gives us a sense of power and can also produce other feelings such as awe.

Asked By: Roger Cai, Wakefield


Feeling in control is a basic human need and one theory posits that deliberately destroying things is incredibly satisfying because it makes us feel powerful. Anecdotal evidence from visitors to ‘anger rooms’ indicates that there’s also a cathartic element, especially when we’ve been suppressing frustration in our everyday lives. Many people also get a thrill from watching things being smashed to pieces.

In this case, curiosity, awe and aesthetics are at play as we wonder how long the doomed object will survive and how it will look when it explodes.

Are there chemical formulae for emotions like love, hate, anger, joy and jealousy? © Getty Images


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Dr Christian Jarrett is a cognitive neuroscientist, science writer and author. He is the Deputy Editor of Psyche, the sister magazine to Aeon that illuminates the human condition through psychology, philosophy and the arts. Jarrett also created the British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog and was the first ever staff journalist on the Society's magazine, The Psychologist. He is author of Great Myths of The Brain and Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change.


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