The effects of comparison status and individual differences in social comparison tendencies on the experience of Schadenfreude

Jessica E. Franklin, Eugene Chekaluk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Little is known of the attributes of an individual that are involved in the emotion of Schadenfreude (pleasure at another's misfortune). This study used social comparison theory as a basis for exploring individual differences in experiences of Schadenfreude. Ninety nine first-year psychology students participated in a repeated measures experimental study where they responded to vignettes where a comparison target (upward vs. downward) experienced a misfortune. The participants completed a Schadenfreude Scale that measured their response to the misfortune of each target. They also completed the Iowa-Netherlands Comparison Orientation Measure, which measured their social comparison orientation (SCO), the Upward Comparison Subscale (UCS), and the Downward Comparison Subscale, which measured their directional social comparison tendencies. The results showed that participants reported greater Schadenfreude towards the upward comparison target than the downward comparison target. Participants' SCO and UCS scores positively predicted Schadenfreude towards the upward comparison target, but not towards the downward comparison target, whilst participants' DCS scores were not predictive of Schadenfreude towards either target. These findings suggest that Schadenfreude is facilitated by upward social comparison processes, and that individual differences in experiences of Schadenfreude can be partially explained by individual differences in one's dispositional social comparison tendencies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPersonality and Individual Differences: Theory, Assessment, and Application
EditorsNiko Tiliopoulos, Simon Boag
Place of PublicationHauppauge, NY
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Pages37-49
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781611225884
ISBN (Print)9781611220704
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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