Integrating multiple perspectives on schadenfreude: The role of deservingness and emotions

Norman Feather, Michael Wenzel, Ian McKee

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    44 Citations (Scopus)


    Schadenfreude, or pleasure in another person's misfortune, has been linked to a cognitive appraisal that other deserves the misfortune. In the present study we develop a structural model that links schadenfreude to global self-esteem, pain of inferiority, hostile and benign envy, resentment, perceived deservingness, and sympathy. We also examine the effects of ingroup/outgroup membership on schadenfreude and test for the invariance of our structural model between these two conditions. Participants (n = 170) responded to a hypothetical scenario that manipulated ingroup/outgroup membership and perceived deservingness in relation to other's initial success and subsequent failure. Results supported a structural model that showed invariance. They also showed that more schadenfreude was reported when the outgroup member failed and more sympathy and anger when the ingroup member failed. These results provide an integrated structural approach to the analysis of schadenfreude.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)574-585
    Number of pages12
    JournalMotivation and Emotion
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


    • Deservingness
    • Envy
    • Group membership
    • Pain of inferiority
    • Resentment
    • Schadenfreude
    • Self-esteem


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