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  • Cited by 29
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
August 2014
Print publication year:
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Book description

When someone suffers a mishap, a setback or a downfall, we sometimes find ourselves experiencing schadenfreude - an emotion defined as deriving pleasure from another's misfortune. Schadenfreude is a common experience and an emotion which is seemingly inherent to social being. This book offers a comprehensive summary of current theoretical and empirical work on schadenfreude from psychological, philosophical and other scientific perspectives. The chapters explore justice as an underlying motive for schadenfreude, and the role played by social comparison processes and envy in evoking pleasure at the misfortunes of others in interpersonal relations. Schadenfreude is also described as a common phenomenon in intergroup relations. This is a compelling volume on a fascinating subject matter that aims to increase our understanding of the nature of this emotion and the role it plays in social relations.


‘While the Germanic language is hardly the lingua franca of the modern world, the word 'schadenfreude' has become global coinage. This new international collection is a fascinating multidisciplinary exploration of an extremely problematic emotion - the pleasure at another’s suffering - in a wide array of social contexts. It should be essential reading for social psychologists and those working in ethics where concerns of status, envy and justice render schadenfreude a widely felt emotion.’

M. J. McNamee - Swansea University

‘These fascinating, well-written essays represent a wide range of perspectives that provide deep insights into this intriguing and neglected emotion.'

W. Gerrod Parrott - Georgetown University, Washington DC

'As this collection suggests, schadenfreude is a neglected phenomenon … The scholars who contribute to this volume represent eight disciplines in the social sciences … and six different countries. The twenty essays address aspects of schadenfreude … such as hypocrisy, laughter, and morality and also its occurrence in nineteenth-century US literature. The book includes both theoretical and empirical studies and gives considerable attention to the concepts of 'deservingness', envy, and self-enhancement in regard to this emotion … This book is the first to give a solid and distinctive overview of schadenfreude from a social science perspective … Summing up: recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals.'

S. Halling Source: Choice

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