This study investigated effects of like/dislike relations on schadenfreude and other discrete emotions in the context of plagiarism. The predicted emotions were derived from a structural analysis of how the appraisal of deservingness affects emotional reactions to positive or negative outcomes for self or other. One hundred forty-six undergraduate participants responded to scenarios in which either hypothetical self or other (a classmate) plagiarised information from the internet for a class assignment and either received a high grade (undeserved outcome) or a penalty (deserved outcome). Hypothetical self was represented as either high or low in self-esteem, other as liked or disliked. As predicted, liking relations moderated perceived deservingness. Schadenfreude (or pleasure) occurred when the disliked classmate received a deserved penalty for detected plagiarism but not when he/she suffered an undeserved positive outcome. This difference was reversed for the emotion of disappointment. Effects on other discrete emotions such as guilt and resentment are also reported.
- Self-conscious emotions