Forbidden fruit and forbidden pleasures: Interpersonal and intergroup schadenfreude following the exclusion of bad apples

Wilco W. Van Dijk, J.W. Ouwerkerk, S.F. Pennekamp, R. Spears

Research output: Contribution to ConferenceAbstractOther research output

Abstract

When other people are socially excluded or ostracized our reaction is often one of sympathy and compassion. However, we may also experience what Germans have termed Schadenfreude (i.e., pleasure in another’s misfortune). Which of these two emotional reactions will occur is arguably dependent on the perceived deservingness of the misfortune (i.e., the social exclusion). Accordingly, we demonstrate that in a public good dilemma exclusion of uncooperative others (bad apples) elicits more Schadenfreude, and less sympathy, than exclusion of cooperative others (good guys). Moreover, we show that the effects on Schadenfreude are stronger in an intergroup rather than an interpersonal setting. One possible explanation for the latter finding is that intergroup relations are inherently more competitive than interpersonal relations. Indeed, consistent with research on the so-called individual-group discontinuity effect, we found that people cooperated less in an intergroup setting than in an interpersonal setting.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2005
Event14th General Meeting of the European Association for Experimental Social Psychology - Würzberg, Germany
Duration: 19 Jul 200523 Jul 2005

Conference

Conference14th General Meeting of the European Association for Experimental Social Psychology
CountryGermany
CityWürzberg
Period19/07/0523/07/05

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