Why do we feel schadenfreude — and who it feels it the most?

Delving into the psychology of an uncommon joy.

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  • Few words convey as much meaning as Schadenfreude, or the joy that arises from seeing harm come to others.
  • Schadenfreude is a complex psychological phenomenon, and researchers have only begun to look into rigorously.
  • Psychology can tell us why we feel schadenfreude, when we feel it, and who feels it the most.
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A new study has investigated who watched the ISIS beheading videos, why, and what effect it had on them

This is the first study to explore not only what percentage of people in the general population choose to watch videos of graphic real-life violence, but also why.

In the summer of 2014, two videos were released that shocked the world. They showed the beheadings, by ISIS, of two American journalists – first, James Foley and then Steven Sotloff. Though the videos were widely discussed on TV, print and online news, most outlets did not show the full footage. However, it was not difficult to find links to the videos online.

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Your romantic partner is probably less intelligent than you think, suggests new study

Our egotism and self-confidence can sometimes spill-over to our loved ones.

It's now well known that many of us over-estimate our own brainpower. In one study, more than 90 per cent of US college professors famously claimed to be better than average at teaching, for instance – which would be highly unlikely. Our egos blind us to our own flaws.

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Actors show altered brain activity when in character, study finds

A recent study used MRIs to study the changes in brain activity when trained method actors responded to questions in and out of character.

Columbia Pictures --- "Taxi Driver"
  • Method actors employ an intensive approach to acting that involves staying in character for long periods of time.
  • The recent study asked trained method actors a variety of hypothetical questions under four different scenarios.
  • The results showed changes in brain activity depending on whether actors were in and out of character, including alterations to activity in the prefontal cortex — a key region in terms of self-awareness.
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A pleasure to burn: Why do people like spicy foods?

Spicy foods are enjoyed the world over, but scientists don't know why people partake in culinary masochism.

Image source: Pixabay
  • Humans are the only animals known to willingly eat foods that cause irritation, discomfort, and even pain.
  • Theories for why range from thrill-seeking behavior to an evolutionary adaptation for seeking foods that reduce pathogens.
  • Taste results from an interplay of genes, culture, memory, and personality, a complex design that scientists are only now beginning to understand.
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