When we enjoy bad news about other groups: A social identity approach to out-group schadenfreude

Jaap W. Ouwerkerk*, Wilco W. van Dijk, Charlotte C. Vonkeman, Russell Spears

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
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Two studies investigate schadenfreude (pleasure at the misfortune of others) as an emotional response to news about out-group misfortunes in a political and consumer context by analyzing reactions of voters for opposition parties to the downfall of a Dutch coalition government (Study 1), and of BlackBerry users to negative news reports about Apple's iPhone (Study 2). Consistent with social identity theory and intergroup emotion theory, both studies demonstrate that affective in-group identification increases schadenfreude reactions to news about an out-group's misfortune, provided that this misfortune occurs in a domain of interest to news recipients. Additional findings show that this interaction effect attenuates when a misfortune instead befalls the in-group (Study 1) and is still observed when controlling for affective dispositions towards the out-group (Study 2). Moreover, results suggest that schadenfreude reactions strengthen subsequent intentions to share news about the out-group's misfortune with others or to engage in negative word-of-mouth (Study 2).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-232
Number of pages19
JournalGroup Processes & Intergroup Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2018


  • intergroup emotion
  • negative word-of-mouth
  • schadenfreude
  • social identity
  • TV

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