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and the Upside of Your Dark Side

Simon McCarthy-Jones

Have you ever done something stupid, dangerous or self-sabotaging just to get one over someone else? Most of us have.

Simon McCarthy-Jones draws on psychology, current affairs, literature and genetics to illuminate – whether we admit it or not – our spiteful side. What is that part of us that secretly wants our friends to fail? Did Americans put Trump in the White House just to stick it to Hillary Clinton? And then there are the legion of stories about toxic behaviour in supermarkets and over the privet hedge, ramping up to incendiary divorces, vicious business practices, backbiting politics and scorched-earth terrorism.

There’s a hopeful message too – the upside of our dark side. Spite can drive us forward, and Simon provides a fresh perspective on the concept by showing the evolutionary benefits of spite as a social leveller, an enabler of defiance, a wellspring of freedom and a vital weapon in our everyday armoury.

  • Publication date:
  • ISBN: 9780861543816
  • RRP: £10.99
  • Pages: 256
  • Publication date: October 22, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781786078421
  • RRP: £16.99
  • Pages: 256
  • Publication date: October 22, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781786078438
  • RRP: £9.99
  • Pages: 240


‘[A] thorough and entertaining book, which poses a provocative thesis… McCarthy-Jones is a funny, playful writer, especially for a psychologist… an illuminating examination of an under-discussed topic.’

New York Times

‘An informative, evidence-based page-turner. A rare pleasure.’

Richard Stephens, author of Black Sheep, winner of the Wellcome Prize 2014

'Spite is a fascinating insight into how we all behave in a world of big egos and thin skins.'

Michael Cockerell, award-winning political documentary-maker

‘With rigorous science, penetrating analyses, colourful and enjoyable prose, and an astonishing breadth of knowledge – Simon McCarthy-Jones has delivered a book that will undeniably be appreciated by many.’

Frank Larøi. University of Bergen

'Spite is an eye-opening examination of humanity’s nastier impulses - from Achilles to Trump. An erudite and eloquent guide, McCarthy-Jones deftly examines cutting-edge psychological research and evolutionary theory, with some truly startling insights for our personal relationships, business and politics. You will never look at your human nature in quite the same way again.'

David Robson, author of The Intelligence Trap

‘An interesting and at times provocative exploration of an emotion that has to this point been underexplored and, if McCarthy-Jones is right, significantly underappreciated.’


Simon McCarthy-Jones

Simon McCarthy-Jones is an Associate Professor in Clinical Psychology and Neuropsychology at Trinity College Dublin. An internationally recognised expert on the experience of hallucinations, he also writes on and researches a range of psychological phenomena and is the author of Spite. He has written extensively for the popular press, with articles published in the New Statesman, New Scientist, Newsweek, the Huffington Post, the Daily Mail, the Independent and the Irish Times. His articles on ‘The Conversation’ website have received over a million views to date. His website is:

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