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

J.W. Ouwerkerk, W.W. van Dijk, C.C. Vonkeman, R. Spears

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Two studies investigate schadenfreude (pleasure at the misfortune of others) as an emotional response to news about out-group misfortunes in a political and consumer context by analyzing reactions of voters for opposition parties to the downfall of a Dutch coalition government (Study 1), and of BlackBerry-users to negative news reports about Apple’s iPhone (Study 2). Consistent with social identity theory and intergroup emotion theory, both studies demonstrate that affective in-group identification increases schadenfreude reactions to news about an out-group misfortune, provided that this misfortune occurs in a domain of interest to news recipients. Additional findings show that this interaction effect attenuates when a misfortune instead befalls the in-group (Study 1) and is still observed when controlling for affective dispositions towards the out-group (Study 2). Moreover, results suggest that schadenfreude reactions strengthen subsequent intentions to share news about the out-group’s misfortune with others or to engage in negative word-of-mouth (Study 2).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-232
Number of pages18
JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
Issue number1
Early online date29 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


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  • Top Paper Award (International Communication Association)

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


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