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3 types of Schadenfreude and when you feel them
Schadenfreude is a common feeling, but not all of it is the same.
- A new model of schadenfreude suggests that there are three sub-types of "harm-joy."
- The study also suggests that depersonalization, the ability to view others as less than human, is the key element of schadenfreude.
- The model could lead to a deeper understanding of schadenfreude and psychopathic traits.
Most people would probably deny it, but everybody has felt a bit of joy at the pain or failure of another person at least once. Think back to when a person you don't like had a misfortune, when the coworker you envy missed a deadline, or when your stupid neighbor opened a store for left-handed people and nearly went broke. Admit it, you smiled a little to think of them falling flat.
This sensation of feeling joy at other people's misfortune is called schadenfreude and means "harm-joy" in German. Lots of people experience it, but our understanding of it is still a bit spotty.
The three-part model
A group of psychologists at Emory University have proposed a new three-part model to explain schadenfreude. Their proposal, published in New Ideas in Psychology, suggests that the motivation behind the feeling is important and that an element of viewing others as less than human is often at play.
Drawing upon decades of work, the researchers suggest that three different motivations can drive the feeling of schadenfreude; aggression, rivalry, and justice.
Aggression based schadenfreude involves group identity. Often, improving the group you're in can require the defeat of other groups. This kind of Schadenfreude is the one you might feel when your favorite team's rival loses a game to somebody else and can't make the playoffs, even though your team is already long out of the running.
Rivalry based schadenfreude is similar but distinct. This one is tied to individual achievement and jealousies. It occurs when you go out of your way to do better than another person, such as when you make a move in a game that improves your lead over one player in particular, but that doesn't help you otherwise. Like when you play The Settlers of Catan with somebody and place a settlement right where they wanted to build one, even though there was a better option for you.
The third kind is justice based and revolves around the joy we feel when somebody who we think deserves some comeuppance, say a successful person who we all know robs, cheats, steals, and overcharges for lifesaving drugs who then goes to prison.
Who is most likely to feel Schadenfreude?
While everybody has a little every now and again, the literature showed that people with the traits of Machiavellianism, narcissism, or psychopathy, together known as the "dark triad," feel schadenfreude more often. This is also true for the sadistic and cruel.
The researchers propose that feeling schadenfreude requires us to dehumanize the person whose failure we are laughing at. People with any of the dark triad traits would be practicing that dehumanization already. Lead author Shensheng Wang explains how:
One possibility is that when people experience Schadenfreude, they undergo a [temporary] process similar to that experienced by individuals with high levels of psychopathic personality traits: motivated by certain situational and to a lesser extent dispositional variables, the perceiver tends to dehumanise the victim, temporarily losing the motivation to detect the victim's mind, much like a psychopath
They further suggest dehumanization might be the fundamental aspect of this emotion, though further research is needed before that can be proven.
The researchers also explained that people with low self-esteem are more likely to feel schadenfreude when they see other people fail. This is because the success of others can be a threat to their sense of self and seeing the mighty fall can be a comfort.
So, am I a psychopath for feeling Schadenfreude?
Not at all. Explaining another study on schadenfreude, Dr. Mina Cikara explained that "A lack of empathy is not always pathological" and that schadenfreude is "a human response and not everyone experiences this. But a significant portion of us do." You might want to be worried if you feel it regularly, but a little smirk at the failure of somebody you envy every now and again doesn't mean you're turning into a monster.
How can we use this model?
It is human nature to feel envy and feeling schadenfreude can be a part of that emotion. Knowing that this familiar feeling is tied to some of the darker elements of human nature can give us insights into how the darker side of the human personality relates to emotions we all have.
Dr. Wang explained the potential benefits of the study by saying, "By broadening the perspective of schadenfreude, and connecting all of the related phenomena underlying it, we hope we've provided a framework to gain deeper insights into this complex, multi-faceted emotion."
So don't feel too bad for feeling a little schadenfreude every now and again, but beware of doing it too much.
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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.