In this article we address why and when people feel schadenfreude (pleasure at the misfortunes of others) in both interpersonal and intergroup contexts. Using findings from our own research programmes we show that schadenfreude is intensified when people are chronically or momentarily threatened in their self-worth, whereas it is attenuated when their self-evaluation is boosted; that malicious envy, but not benign envy, intensifies pleasure at the misfortunes of others; that these emotional responses are manifested in intergroup contexts via the same mechanisms; and that mere stereotypes, in the absence of any interaction or overt competition, are sufficient to elicit schadenfreude via such mechanisms. Together, these findings suggest that self-evaluation and envy both play an important role in evoking schadenfreude; people feel pleasure at the misfortunes of others when these misfortunes provide them with social comparisons that enhance their feelings of self-worth or remove the basis for painful feelings of envy.
|Journal||European Review of Social Psychology|
|Early online date||8 Dec 2015|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|
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