IELTS Reading on Schadenfreude
What is Schadenfreude?
Schadenfreude is the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another. It is one of four related emotions or concepts.
Schadenfreude is a complex emotion, where rather than feeling sympathy towards someone’s misfortune, schadenfreude evokes joyful feelings that take pleasure from watching someone fail. This emotion is displayed more in children than adults, however adults also experience schadenfreude, they are just better at concealing their expressions.
What triggers Schadenfreude?
Researchers have found that there are three driving forces behind schadenfreude: aggression, rivalry, and justice. People who experience schadenfreude usually have low self-esteem. Seeing another person fail brings them a small surge of confidence. Whereas, seeing someone who is successful poses a threat to their sense of self and seeing the ‘mighty’ fall can be a source of comfort.
- Schadenfreude that is aggression-based involves group identity. With aggression-based schadenfreude, it involves a group such as a team or family.
- Rivalry schadenfreude is individualistic. It happens when a person goes out of their way to dominate another person’s actions in order to see them fail.
- Justice-based schadenfreude is the type of joy a person experiences when someone gets busted for doing something wrong. For example, a successful person who cheats and robs finally gets caught for his wrongdoing, the schadenfreude experienced here would be justice-based.
A 2003 study examined inter-group Schadenfreude within the context of sports, specifically an international football (soccer) competition. The study focused on the German and Dutch football teams and their fans. The results of this study indicated that the emotion of Schadenfreude is very sensitive to circumstances that make it more or less legitimate to feel such malicious pleasure towards a sport rival.