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Their pain, our pleasure: stereotype content and schadenfreude

Author(s): Cikara, Mina; Fiske, Susan T.

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Abstract: People often fail to empathize with others, and sometimes even experience schadenfreude – pleasure at others' misfortunes. One potent predictor of schadenfreude is envy, which, according to the stereotype content model, is elicited by high-status, competitive targets. Here we review our recent research program investigating the relationships among stereotypes, envy, schadenfreude, and harm. Experiment 1 demonstrates that stereotypes are sufficient to influence affective responses to targets' misfortunes; participants not only report feeling less negative when misfortunes befall high-status, competitive targets as compared to other targets, they also smile more (assessed with facial EMG). Experiment 2 replicates the self-report findings from Experiment 1 and assesses behavioral tendencies toward envied targets; participants are more willing to endorse harming high-status, competitive targets as compared to other targets. Experiment 3 turns off the schadenfreude response by manipulating status and competition-relevant information regarding envied targets. Finally, Experiment 4 investigates affective and neural markers of intergroup envy and schadenfreude in the context of a long-standing sports rivalry and the extent to which neurophysiological correlates of schadenfreude are related to self-reported likelihood of harming rival team fans. We conclude with implications and future directions.
Publication Date: Sep-2013
Electronic Publication Date: 24-Sep-2013
Citation: Cikara, Mina, Fiske, Susan T. (2013). Their pain, our pleasure: stereotype content and schadenfreude. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1299 (1), 52 - 59. doi:10.1111/nyas.12179
DOI: doi:10.1111/nyas.12179
ISSN: 0077-8923
Pages: 52 - 59
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Version: Author's manuscript

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