Schadenfreude is the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another. 

Schadenfreude has been detected in children as young as 24 months.

Schadenfreude may be an important social emotion: inequity aversion.

The 3 driving forces behind schadenfreude: aggression, rivalry, and justice.

Self-esteem has a negative relationship with the frequency and intensity of schadenfreude.

Individuals with less self-esteem tend to experience schadenfreude more frequently and intensely.

It is felt to be mediated through the human psychological inclination to define and protect their self- and in-group- identity or self-conception.

Even someone with high self-esteem, seeing another person fail may still bring them a small, but negligible, surge of confidence because the observer’s high self-esteem significantly lowers the threat they believe the visibly-failing human poses to their status or identity. 

Conversely, an individual with low self-esteem, seeing someone who is more successful as a threat to their sense of self, seeing another person fall, can be a source of comfort because they perceive a relative improvement in their internal or in-group standing.

Aggression-based schadenfreude involves group identity. 

The joy of observing other’s failure represents an improvement or validation of their own group’s status in relation to external groups:

schadenfreude based on group versus group status.

Rivalry-based schadenfreude is related to interpersonal competition. 

Rivalry-based schadenfreude arises from a desire to stand out from and out-perform one’s peers. 

Rivalry schadenfreude is based on another person’s misfortune eliciting pleasure because the observer now feels better about their personal identity and self-worth, instead of their group identity.

Justice-based schadenfreude comes from seeing that behavior seen as immoral is punished, making people feel that fairness has been restored for a previously un-punished wrong, and is a type of moral emotion.

Gloating means observing or thinking about something with triumphant and often malicious satisfaction, gratification, or delight.

Gloating differs from schadenfreude in that it does not necessarily require malice and that it describes an action rather than a state of mind.

Unlike schadenfreude, where the focus is on another’s misfortune, gloating often brings to mind inappropriately celebrating or bragging about one’s own good fortune without any particular focus on the misfortune of others.

Schadenfreude is pleasure on observing misfortune and in particular, the fact that the other somehow deserved the misfortune.

Researchers have found that people with low self-esteem are more likely to feel schadenfreude than are those who have high self-esteem.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) found schadenfreude has increased activation in the striatum brain area correlating  with self-reported pleasure.

By contrast, there is increased activation in the anterior cingulate and insula when they experience a negative schadenfreud outcome.

Experimentally  justice served finds men, but not women, enjoy seeing “bad people” suffer. 

Schadenfreude brain scan findings correlate with envy in subjects,and the brain’s schadenfreude response could even be predicted from the strength of the previous envy response.

In the domain of politics schadenfreude is prominent for those who identify strongly with their political party.

There is a relationship between schadenfreude and traits of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy, so that higher levels of these traits are associated with higher levels of schadenfreude, with engagement  in greater anti-social activities and a greater interest in sensationalism.

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