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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)

Ancillary activities

No ancillary activities

Ancillary activities are updated daily


  • Schadenfreude
  • Leedvermaak

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Jaap W. Ouwerkerk is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 5 Similar Profiles
Social Identification Medicine & Life Sciences
social dilemma Social Sciences
Noise Medicine & Life Sciences
Interpersonal Relations Medicine & Life Sciences
Emotions Medicine & Life Sciences
Self Concept Medicine & Life Sciences
Research Medicine & Life Sciences
Group Social Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 1996 2019

My colleagues are my friends: The role of facebook contacts in employee identification

Bartels, J., van Vuuren, M. & Ouwerkerk, J. W., 1 Aug 2019, In : Management Communication Quarterly. 33, 3, p. 307-328 22 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access

Assessment of an optimistic bias in social media messages

Bašić, S., Spijkers, B. S., Ouwerkerk, J. W., Vermeulen, I. E., van Koningsbruggen, G. M. & Fokkens, A. S., 2018, Proceedings of the 10th ACM Conference on Web science: Main Conference Poster Session. Vermeulen, I. (ed.). p. 33-34 2 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
human behavior
social media

When we enjoy bad news about other groups: A social identity approach to out-group schadenfreude

Ouwerkerk, J. W., van Dijk, W. W., Vonkeman, C. C. & Spears, R., 1 Jan 2018, In : Group Processes and Intergroup Relations. 21, 1, p. 214-232 18 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Social Identification

Motives for online friending and following: The dark side of social network site connections

Ouwerkerk, J. W. & Johnson, B. K., Aug 2016, In : Social Media + Society. 2, 3, p. 1-13 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
social network
satisfaction with life

Rivalita intergruppo e schadenfreude

Ouwerkerk, J. W. & van Dijk, W., 2016, Schadenfreude: il piacere per le disgrazie altrui (Virginio Sala, Trans.). van Dijk, W. W. & Ouwerkerk, J. W. (eds.). Milan: Edra S.p.A., p. 188-201

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

Activities 2002 2019

Assessment of an optimistic bias in social media messages

I.E. Vermeulen (Speaker), Benthe S. Spijkers (Speaker), Suzana Bašić (Speaker), A.S. Fokkens (Speaker), Jaap W. Ouwerkerk (Speaker), G.M. van Koningsbruggen (Speaker)
8 Feb 2019

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic

Complex emotions in media-psychology research: Schadenfreude

Jaap W. Ouwerkerk (Speaker)
28 May 2018

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic

Motives for online friending and following: The dark side of social network site connections

Jaap Ouwerkerk (Speaker), B.K. Johnson (Speaker)
9 Jun 2016

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic

Phantom phone signals among millennials: Signs of the times?

Jaap W. Ouwerkerk (Speaker), Martin Tanis (Speaker), C.J. Beukeboom (Speaker), T. Hartmann (Speaker), I.E. Vermeulen (Speaker)
5 Feb 2016

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic

When we enjoy bad news about other groups: A social identity approach to out-group schadenfreude

Jaap Ouwerkerk (Speaker), Wilco W. Van Dijk (Speaker), C.C. Vonkeman (Speaker), R. Spears (Speaker)
24 May 2015

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic


Top Cited Paper (InCites Essential Science Indicators)

C.W. Leach (Recipient), M. van Zomeren (Recipient), S. Zebel (Recipient), M.L.W. Vliek (Recipient), S.F. Pennekamp (Recipient), Berjan Doosje (Recipient), Jaap W. Ouwerkerk (Recipient) & R. Spears (Recipient), Sep 2018



Grant Academy Assistant (Network Institute)

Jaap W. Ouwerkerk (Recipient) & Antske Fokkens (Recipient), 2017



Top Paper Award (International Communication Association)

Jaap W. Ouwerkerk (Recipient), Wilco W. Van Dijk (Recipient), Charlotte Vonkeman (Recipient) & Russell Spears (Recipient), May 2015


honors and awards

Personal Postdoc Grant (NWO)

Jaap W. Ouwerkerk (Recipient), 2002