Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Richard H. Smith

Abstract

Envy is a painful emotion that can negatively impact one’s self-worth. It is also a shameful, socially undesirable emotion, implying both inferiority and hostility. Some scholars suggest that these features of envy lead to a need to cope with the emotion. Thus, over time, envy tends to be transformed into more socially acceptable responses such as resentment or dislike. The present study tested this claim. First, envy was manipulated by asking participants to read an article containing an interview with either a high- or low-envy target. The second article manipulated the likeability of the target by varying whether or not he or she made an arrogant statement. Finally, a third article indicated that the target had suffered a misfortune. Although, as predicted, envy decreased, the manipulation of likeability did not affect this decrease. Consistent with predictions, resentment increased after the second article and this was more likely when the target was dislikeable than when the target was likeable. Finally, the participants felt greater schadenfreude when the dislikeable target suffered than when the likeable target suffered and marginally more schadenfreude when the target was more enviable. Clearly, envy dissipated over time, but further research is needed to determine precisely why.

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