Originally posted by sonhouse
This should make next years list for the Ignoble Prize🙂
Well if the news media actually reported science findings correctly and not sensationally it might have seemed a less obvious result!
What they actually found is that those subjects who had a diagnosed psychiatric disorder related to aggressive impulses did not show activation in brain regions associated with perspective-taking and empathy, but DID show activation in regions associated with the pleasurable aspects of reward. This is all while viewing movies of unknown third-parties getting deliberately hurt.
This means that these individuals may be qualitatively different from normal people who feel empathy and a sense of sympathy for the pain of others, and do not derive pleasure from it. Remember that this pain was inflicted by a third party on a third party, not by the individuals in the study.
Finally, it's unlikely that most bullies actually have conduct disorder - this is a rare psychiatric condition that affects only a small percentage of the population.
So - while the pithy headline may have made the research seem obvious and uninteresting, actually there was a lot in the study that was well worth finding out.