Motivational and Behavioral Expressions of Schadenfreude among Undergraduates
Schadenfreude, the pleasure that results from another person's misfortune, is an interesting topic within emotion research. However, there has been limited research regarding whether cultural tendencies influence the motivational urges, action tendencies, and enacted behaviors of schadenfreude, the pleasure felt from another’s misfortune. In order to find out whether culture and language influence the motivational and behavioral expressions of schadenfreude, participants (N=146) completed an online questionnaire in which they read a schadenfreude eliciting vignette and responded to a series of questions to assess their appraisals, emotions, thoughts, and action tendencies. In addition, participants filled out measure to assess their levels of individualism/collectivism and empathy. The vignettes followed a 2 (competitive, slapstick) x 2 (academic, social) x 3 (friend, stranger, disliked target) design in order to determine whether certain situations and/or targets elicited greater amounts of schadenfreude. Unfortunately, the expected culture and language differences were not significant in predicting schadenfreude, but we were able to find that that schadenfreude is influenced by the target, the situation, and the individual’s level of empathy. In addition, we found that the significant appraisals associated with schadenfreude were: relevance, congruence, outside factors, other accountability, and accommodation-focused coping potential.