Date of Award






Degree Type

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Brandt A. Smith

Second Advisor

Dr. Tiffany Berzins

Third Advisor

Dr. Aisha Adams


The present study was focused on determining if positive affect scores increase after viewing an example of misfortune which would demonstrate the psychological phenomenon of schadenfreude-defined as a feeling of pleasure or satisfaction when something misfortunate happens to someone else. Measures used in the study included the Positive and Negative Affect inventory (PANAS; Watson et al., 1988) and a modified version of the Velton mood induction procedure developed by Seibert and Ellis (1991) which was used to measure and manipulate students’ mood, respectively. Students enrolled in a psychology research pool at Columbus State University participated in the study (N=46). The results of a paired samples t-test suggested that positive affect decreased after viewing the example of misfortune instead of increased, as expected. These results did not support the hypothesis that positive affect would increase, and therefore did not show evidence of schadenfreude. Rather than feeling schadenfreude, participants appeared to experience empathy. Future directions for this project include delving into empathy, social groups, and demographic factors that may or may not relate to experiencing schadenfreude, as well as hypothetical versus real-life examples of misfortune. Investigating this concept further is valuable in the understanding of competition, interpersonal interactions in college students, and bullying.

Included in

Psychology Commons