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Paton Yam

BSS (First Class Honours); PCPSY (Distinction); MPhil (Psychology)

Parkinson Lab


My research focuses on the social functions of schadenfreude in intergroup contexts. Specifically, I am interested in how the social dynamics change between an ingroup and an outgroup after a misfortune happens.

In a series of online and experimental studies, I have shown that the experience of intergroup schadenfreude improves ingroup’s perceived status, enhances liking toward the outgroup causing the misfortune, and relates to the intention to humiliate the unfortunate outgroup. Moreover, I have demonstrated that the experience of schadenfreude is qualitatively different from victorious joy in competitive settings.

Currently, I am conducting research on the communicative function of schadenfreude when the emotion is expressed by another ingroup member.

I hope to build a social-functional account of schadenfreude, which could serve as a theoretical basis for researchers examining different attitudinal and behavioural consequences of this emotion. The understanding of schadenfreude is important to resolving some of the real-life conflicts between competing groups (e.g. fans of different football teams and political rivals).

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