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Jaap Ouwerkerk is Associate Professor in Communication Science at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). He started his scientific career at the University of Amsterdam (UVA), where he was a student assistant for research, and graduated in Work and Organizational Psychology in 1994. Next, he entered a PhD project in Social Psychology at the VU. During this project on comparison-based reactions to group performance outcomes, he was also a visiting research fellow at the University of California (Berkeley) in 1997. After completing his PhD in 2000, he stayed at the VU as a Postdoc for two more years, focusing on social dilemma research. When he obtained a Personal Postdoc Grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) in 2001, he returned to the UVA to work on his research project at the Department of Social Psychology. On completion of this project, he joined the Department of Communication Science at the VU, first as an Assistant Professor (2004), and later as an Associate Professor (2008).


People sometimes behave, react, communicate, or use media in ways that differ from social norms or accepted standards. The research by Jaap Ouwerkerk is focused on such deviance in different social contexts–in interpersonal relations, within groups, in intergroup relations, in organizations, or in society as a whole. His work on topics such as social identity and intergroup competition, ostracism, uncooperative behavior in social dilemmas, and schadenfreude has resulted in numerous publications. His current research focuses on the dark side of human communication, and aims to increase our understanding of why misfortunes depicted in the media evoke pleasure, and how antisocial motives shape social media use. In addition, he studies determinants of deviant cyberbehavior in organizations (e.g., cyberloafing and cyberincivility).

Jaap Ouwerkerk published a co-edited volume entitled “Schadenfreude: Understanding pleasure at the misfortune of others” (Cambridge University Press; published also in Italian by Edra), and was interviewed by Dutch newspapers (NRC) and Dutch radio (Spijkers met Koppen) on this topic.






Faculty of Social Sciences:

  • Gedrag en Communicatie in Organisaties (BA)
  • Interne Communicatie en Nieuwe Media (MA)
  • Master Thesis (MA)

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User created Keywords

  • Schadenfreude
  • Leedvermaak


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