’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.…’
Via Big Think