Dejection at in-group defeat and schadenfreude toward second- and third-party out-groups

Emotion. 2009 Oct;9(5):659-65. doi: 10.1037/a0016815.


It has been argued that the emotional pain of being outshone by a second party leads to the malicious pleasure of schadenfreude when this second party subsequently suffers a misfortune. However, direct tests of this idea are rare, especially at the intergroup level. Thus, the authors presented participants with their country's defeat in international competition by a second party and then presented this second party as failing. Participants' dejection at their in-group's defeat led to schadenfreude toward the second party. Consistent with the notion that it affirms the self, schadenfreude toward the second party was associated with positive evaluation of the in-group. Dejection at defeat by a second party also led to schadenfreude toward a third party who had not defeated the in-group. Schadenfreude toward the third party was associated with negative evaluation of the third party rather than positive evaluation of the in-group. As such schadenfreude toward the third party was more malicious.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Competitive Behavior*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Dominance-Subordination*
  • Emotions*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Prejudice
  • Self Concept
  • Soccer / psychology
  • Social Desirability
  • Social Identification*
  • Stereotyping