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Identifying with the In-group Increases Aggressive Tendencies against the Out-group: The Mediating Role of Schadenfreude

Emotions and Leadership

ISBN: 978-1-83867-202-7, eISBN: 978-1-83867-201-0

ISSN: 1746-9791

Publication date: 26 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

This study examines the relationship between in-group identification, intergroup schadenfreude, and the tendency to aggress against out-group members. More specifically, it assesses whether intergroup schadenfreude mediates the identification–aggression link.

Design/Methodology/Approach

This study is a cross-sectional study with the variables studied being in-group identification, intergroup schadenfreude, and tendency to aggress toward out-group members. A total of 123 participants were recruited for this study and questionnaires measuring each variable was administered to participants.

Findings

The results from a cross-sectional survey indicate a positive correlation between in-group identification and intergroup schadenfreude and between intergroup schadenfreude and tendency to aggress against out-group members. The results from this study also show that intergroup schadenfreude mediates the relationship between in-group identification and the tendency to aggress against out-group members.

Research Limitations/Implications

Given the nature of cross-sectional study, claims regarding causal nature of the variables studied could not be made. Further, this study was also contextualized within the political context making expression of schadenfreude more “acceptable” and more easily expressed among participants. Suggestions for further research suggestions are discussed is light of these limitations.

Practical Implications

Findings of this study highlight the importance of understanding intergroup schadenfreude in group contexts, and how such emotions can be employed by leaders to instigate, rather than diminish aggressive tendencies against out-group members.

Originality/Value

This is one of the few studies to demonstrate that rather than diminishing tendencies to engage in aggressive behaviors, schadenfreude, when experienced within group settings, can instead elicit intentions to aggress against rival or opposing group members.

Keywords

Citation

Shah, R.I.A.B.R.R. and Tee, E.Y.J. (2019), "Identifying with the In-group Increases Aggressive Tendencies against the Out-group: The Mediating Role of Schadenfreude", Emotions and Leadership (Research on Emotion in Organizations, Vol. 15), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 113-132. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1746-979120190000015011

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited