Stereotypes and Schadenfreude: Affective and physiological markers of pleasure at outgroup misfortunes.
ABSTRACT: People often fail to empathize with outgroup members, and sometimes even experience Schadenfreude-pleasure-in response to their misfortunes. One potent predictor of Schadenfreude is envy. According to the Stereotype Content Model, envy is elicited by groups whose stereotypes comprise status and competitiveness. These are the first studies to investigate whether stereotypes are sufficient to elicit pleasure in response to high-status, competitive targets' misfortunes. Study 1 participants feel least negative when misfortunes befall high-status, competitive targets as compared to other social targets; participants' facial muscles simultaneously exhibit a pattern consistent with positive affect (i.e., smiling). Study 2 attenuates the Schadenfreude response by manipulating status and competition-relevant information; Schadenfreude decreases when the target-group member has lowered status or is cooperative. Stereotypes' specific content, and not just individual relationships with targets themselves, can predict Schadenfreude.
Project description:The study of moral emotions (i.e. Schadenfreude and envy) is critical to understand the ecological complexity of everyday interactions between cognitive, affective, and social cognition processes. Most previous studies in this area have used correlational imaging techniques and framed Schadenfreude and envy as unified and monolithic emotional domains. Here, we profit from a relevant neurodegeneration model to disentangle the brain regions engaged in three dimensions of Schadenfreude and envy: deservingness, morality, and legality. We tested a group of patients with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), patients with Alzheimer's disease, as a contrastive neurodegeneration model, and healthy controls on a novel task highlighting each of these dimensions in scenarios eliciting Schadenfreude and envy. Compared with the Alzheimer's disease and control groups, patients with bvFTD obtained significantly higher scores on all dimensions for both emotions. Correlational analyses revealed an association between envy and Schadenfreude scores and greater deficits in social cognition, inhibitory control, and behaviour disturbances in bvFTD patients. Brain anatomy findings (restricted to bvFTD and controls) confirmed the partially dissociable nature of the moral emotions' experiences and highlighted the importance of socio-moral brain areas in processing those emotions. In all subjects, an association emerged between Schadenfreude and the ventral striatum, and between envy and the anterior cingulate cortex. In addition, the results supported an association between scores for moral and legal transgression and the morphology of areas implicated in emotional appraisal, including the amygdala and the parahippocampus. By contrast, bvFTD patients exhibited a negative association between increased Schadenfreude and envy across dimensions and critical regions supporting social-value rewards and social-moral processes (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, angular gyrus and precuneus). Together, this study provides lesion-based evidence for the multidimensional nature of the emotional experiences of envy and Schadenfreude. Our results offer new insights into the mechanisms subsuming complex emotions and moral cognition in neurodegeneration. Moreover, this study presents the exacerbation of envy and Schadenfreude as a new potential hallmark of bvFTD that could impact in diagnosis and progression.
Project description:Pregnancy and puerperium are typified by marked biobehavioral changes. These changes, which are traceable in both mothers and fathers, play an important role in parenthood and may modulate social cognition abilities. However, the latter effects remain notably unexplored in parents of newborns (PNs). To bridge this gap, we assessed empathy and social emotions (envy and Schadenfreude) in 55 PNs and 60 controls (childless healthy participants without a romantic relationship or sexual intercourse in the previous 48?hours). We used facial electromyography to detect physiological signatures of social emotion processing. Results revealed higher levels of affective empathy and Schadenfreude in PNs, the latter pattern being accompanied by increased activity of the corrugator suppercilii region. These effects were not explained by potential confounding variables (educational level, executive functioning, depression, stress levels, hours of sleep). Our novel findings suggest that PNs might show social cognition changes crucial for parental bonding and newborn care.
Project description:Background: Occupational segregation by gender is one of the major problems faced by professional women in the labor market. Since the sixties, psychological explanations point out that gender stereotypes are responsible for this persistent inequality in the workforce. Nevertheless, most of research has overlooked that emotions are particularly important as the discrimination faced by professional women is better explained by the ambivalent feelings they provoke than by stereotyping. Aim: The aim of this research is to analyse from the Stereotype Content Model (SCM, Fiske et al., 2002) and the Behaviors from Intergroup Affect and Stereotypes (BIAS) Map (Cuddy et al., 2007) whether cognitive, affective and behavioral components of prejudice act jointly to explain gender segregation in the labor market. Method: 1098 Spanish workers (59% women) from different occupational sectors were requested to rate how professional men and women in high (leaders) and low status (secretaries) positions who work in male (high-tech company) and female-dominated (health company) occupations are perceived (stereotypes), as well as the affective responses and the behavioral tendencies that they arouse. Data analyses: Two analyses of variance (a) and two ANOVAs with repeated measures (b) were carried out to analyze the effect of occupational status (high vs. low), type of company (high-tech vs. health) and workers' sex (men vs. women) on: (a) the social structural variables (status and competition), (b) on the stereotyped dimensions (competence and warmth) and (c) on emotions (admiration, envy and contempt). Finally, mediational analyses were carried out to examine the link between stereotypes, emotions, and behavioral tendencies. Results: The most striking results show that (a) competition and status differentiate leaders and secretaries, (b) men leaders are rated as more competent and less warm than secretaries, whereas women leaders are viewed as more competent than women secretaries but with equivalent warmth, and (c) admiration and envy predict behavioral tendencies, but restricted to professional men regardless of organizational context. Conclusion: Results reveal that cognitive, affective and behavioral components of prejudice act jointly to explain discrimination against women in the workplace. Findings are discussed according to the SCM and the BIAS Map.
Project description:Frontostriatal disorders, such as Parkinson's disease (PD), are characterized by progressive disruption of cortico-subcortical dopaminergic loops involved in diverse higher-order domains, including language. Indeed, syntactic and emotional language tasks have emerged as potential biomarkers of frontostriatal disturbances. However, relevant studies and models have typically considered these linguistic dimensions in isolation, overlooking the potential advantages of targeting multidimensional markers. Here, we examined whether patient classification can be improved through the <i>joint assessment</i> of both dimensions using sentential stimuli. We evaluated 31 early PD patients and 24 healthy controls <i>via</i> two syntactic measures (functional-role assignment, parsing of long-distance dependencies) and a verbal task tapping social emotions (envy, <i>Schadenfreude</i>) and compared their classification accuracy when analyzed in isolation and in combination. Complementarily, we replicated our approach to discriminate between patients on and off medication. Results showed that specific measures of each dimension were selectively impaired in PD. In particular, joint analysis of outcomes in functional-role assignment and <i>Schadenfreude</i> improved the classification accuracy of patients and controls, irrespective of their overall cognitive and affective state. These results suggest that multidimensional linguistic assessments may better capture the complexity and multi-functional impact of frontostriatal disruptions, highlighting their potential contributions in the ongoing quest for sensitive markers of PD.
Project description:Envy is a negative emotion experienced in response to another person's higher status. However, little is known about the composition of its most important element: status. The present research investigates the two main forms of social status (objective and subjective) in the generation of envy. In Study 1, participants recounted real-life situations when they felt envious; in Study 2 we examined whether the effect was the same in a controlled situation. We consistently found that those who were the most respected in the eyes of others were envied more than the richest ones. Furthermore, perceived deservingness of the superior other's success differentiated between benign and malicious envy. Although previous studies focused on material comparisons when investigating envy, our results indicate that envy is rather a subjective social status related emotion. Not material, but social advantage of the superior other causes the most painful envy and future studies should put more emphasis on this type of social comparison in envy research.
Project description:Envy, the inclination to compare rewards, can be expected to unfold when inequalities in terms of pay-off differences are generated in competitive societies. It is shown that increasing levels of envy lead inevitably to a self-induced separation into a lower and an upper class. Class stratification is Nash stable and strict, with members of the same class receiving identical rewards. Upper-class agents play exclusively pure strategies, all lower-class agents the same mixed strategy. The fraction of upper-class agents decreases progressively with larger levels of envy, until a single upper-class agent is left. Numerical simulations and a complete analytic treatment of a basic reference model, the shopping trouble model, are presented. The properties of the class-stratified society are universal and only indirectly controllable through the underlying utility function, which implies that class-stratified societies are intrinsically resistant to political control. Implications for human societies are discussed. It is pointed out that the repercussions of envy are amplified when societies become increasingly competitive.
Project description:When an adult claims he cannot sleep without his teddy bear, people tend to react surprised. Language interpretation is, thus, influenced by social context, such as who the speaker is. The present study reveals inter-individual differences in brain reactivity to social aspects of language. Whereas women showed brain reactivity when stereotype-based inferences about a speaker conflicted with the content of the message, men did not. This sex difference in social information processing can be explained by a specific cognitive trait, one's ability to empathize. Individuals who empathize to a greater degree revealed larger N400 effects (as well as a larger increase in ?-band power) to socially relevant information. These results indicate that individuals with high-empathizing skills are able to rapidly integrate information about the speaker with the content of the message, as they make use of voice-based inferences about the speaker to process language in a top-down manner. Alternatively, individuals with lower empathizing skills did not use information about social stereotypes in implicit sentence comprehension, but rather took a more bottom-up approach to the processing of these social pragmatic sentences.
Project description:Schadenfreude is a social emotion that describes one's happiness at the misfortune of others. Because people experience schadenfreude to different extents, it can also be considered a trait. The present research aimed to develop a trait measure of schadenfreude and investigate the relationship between schadenfreude and political downfalls. We developed an item pool and used exploratory (Study 1) and confirmatory (Study 2) factor analyses to establish a 12-item, two-factor schadenfreude measure: benign and malicious. We also assessed its test-retest reliability (Study 3) and convergent validity with related measures (Study 4). Findings supported a two-factor schadenfreude measure that produced valid and reliable scores (Studies 1-4). In an experiment, we found a positive correlation between episodic-but not trait-schadenfreude on spreading news of a politician's downfall (Study 5). Using a 3 (Political affiliation: Democrat, Republican, or other) × 3 (Manipulated condition: Democrat, Republican, or CEO) design, we examined the extent to which participants' schadenfreude predicted their intentions and choices to share an embarrassing news story about a politician or CEO via social media. Schadenfreude can be assessed as a reliable trait-one that may help us predict why some people intend to spread news of embarrassing political failures.
Project description:ResearchGate, a social network site for academics, prominently displays the achievements of people one follows ("With 150 new reads, X was the most read author from their institute"). The goal of this paper was to examine the emotional and motivational effects of these system-generated messages, thereby extending prior research on envy-evoking status updates on Facebook to a professional context. We also extend the research on social comparisons and more broadly, on emotional responses elicited by social media. Specifically, social media research has largely focused on examining emotional reactions to content that is both generated by and is about others. In this research we directly examine updates generated by the system (ResearchGate) while also directly comparing reactions to updates about others' achievements with reactions to updates that are about the self-i.e., one's personal achievements which are also displayed on ResearchGate ("With 150 new reads, you were the most read author from your institute"). Particular attention was paid to the mediating role of envy and pride. The results of our quasi-experimental field study (n = 419) showed that the achievements of others elicited envy, whereas personal achievements elicited pride. People exposed to their personal achievements (vs. the achievement of others) showed a higher motivation to work harder. This effect was mediated by pride, but not envy. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.
Project description:Green fluorescent protein (GFP) has become an invaluable tool in biological research. Many GFP variants have been created that differ in brightness, photostability, and folding robustness. We have created two hybrid GFP variants, Envy and Ivy, which we placed in a vector for the C-terminal tagging of yeast proteins by PCR-mediated recombination. The Envy GFP variant combines mutations found in the robustly folding SuperfolderGFP and GFPγ, while the Ivy GFP variant is a hybrid of GFPγ and the yellow-green GFP variant, Clover. We compared Envy and Ivy to EGFP, SuperfolderGFP and GFPγ and found that Envy is brighter than the other GFP variants at both 30°C and 37°C, while Ivy is the most photostable. Envy and Ivy are recognized by a commonly used anti-GFP antibody, and both variants can be immunoprecipitated using the GFP TRAP Camelidae antibody nanotrap technology. Because Envy is brighter than the other GFP variants and is as photostable as GFPγ, we suggest that Envy should be the preferred GFP variant, while Ivy may be used in cases where photostability is of the utmost importance.