The current study tested mediating roles of moral disengagement and relational aggression between Dark Triad and schadenfreude. 309 adults completed online survey comprising Short Dark Triad, the Moral Disengagement, Relational Aggression in Friendships scales and author-generated measure of expressed schadenfreude. Higher levels of psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism were associated with higher levels of schadenfreude, moral disengagement and relational aggression. Moral disengagement and relational aggression mediated the effects of psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism on expressed schadenfreude. The findings suggest that individuals who have “dark” personalities are likely disengage morally and have tendency of relational aggression expressed more schadenfreude. Findings and implication of future research are discussed.
Dark Triad personality traits namely narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy have a shared tendency in terms of aggressiveness, emotional coldness (Paulhus & Williams, 2002). Number of studies have examined the Dark Triad traits in terms of antisocial behaviors (Kerig & Stellwagen, 2010), criminal activities (Jakobwitz & Egan, 2006), relational aggression (Abell & Brewer, 2014) and schadenfreude (Porter, Bhanwer, Woodworth, & Black, 2014). It can be considered that Dark Triad traits are not only related with the aggressive behaviors but also with the dark emotions such as schadenfreude (James, Kavanagh, Jonason, Chonody, & Scrutton, 2014). Someone's pain causes sympathy for those who are exposed to this situation (Eisenberg, Fabes, & Spinrad, 2006). However, at times the pain or sorrow of someone else may cause the individual who has witnessed it to enjoy this situation. It is indicated by the German word schadenfreude (Feather, Wenzel, & McKee, 2013). Number of studies examined schadenfreude in terms of resentment and deservingness (Feather & Nairn, 2005), prosocial behaviors and self-esteem (Erzi, 2019; Greitemeyer, Osswald, & Brauer, 2010) and only few studies investigated the relationship between Dark Triad and schadenfreude (James et al., 2014; Porter et al., 2014). Lack of empathy is not only related with Dark Triad traits but also related with schadenfreude (Greitemeyer et al., 2010). Also those who are high on the Dark Triad traits may give priority to their own needs to achieve their goals (Abell & Brewer, 2018) and likely to view loss of others as their personal gain Smith, Powell, Combs, and Schurtz (2009). Form of identification with the nation is also related with schadenfreude towards immigrants, people who glorify their nation feel more schadenfreude (Berndsen, Thomas, McGarty, Bliuc, & Hendres, 2017).