The effect of schadenfreude on choice of conventional versus unconventional options

Thomas Kramer, Ozge Yucel-Aybat, Loraine Lau-Gesk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Others' choices that turn out badly often elicit schadenfreude; that is, feelings of malicious joy about the misfortunes of others. We examine the impact of experiencing schadenfreude when choosing between conventional and unconventional options. Results show that individuals are relatively more likely to choose compromise options and safe options when experiencing schadenfreude, in comparison to happiness and to sadness. In support of an affect-as-information mechanism underlying this effect, the influence of schadenfreude on choice is limited to situations in which decision-makers are unaware of the source of their affect. Our last study demonstrates that individuals interpret schadenfreude as information regarding which option they should choose: its experience heightens anticipation of unfavorable outcomes of their own choices. We end with a discussion of the theoretical and organizational implications of our research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-147
Number of pages8
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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