Schadenfreude and Sport Celebrity Worship

Meghan Gillen, Michael Bernstein, Jeanne Edman, Terence Leary, Lynn E. McCutcheon, William Jenkins

Abstract


We administered either a Guilty or an Ambiguous version of a fatal hit-and-run accident involving one’s favorite sport celebrity, a measure of schadenfreude, and a version of the Celebrity Attitude Scale (CAS) modified to target one’s favorite sport celebrity to 77 Black and 119 White college students. Results of two ANOVAs showed that Black students who chose Black favorite sport celebrities showed a significantly stronger admiration for their favorite sport celebrity, but significantly greater schadenfreude as compared to White students who chose favorite sport celebrities who were White. There were no other main effects or interactions. Schadenfreude scores were lower as compared to previous studies in which target persons were maliciously envied or deserving of misfortune. There was an inverse correlation between schadenfreude scores and reported strength of the bond with the favorite sport celebrity as measured by the single item “How strongly do you feel about your favorite sport celebrity/” and scores on the sport version of the Celebrity Attitude Scale. Results were discussed with a focus on racial differences and the failure to find a difference due to certainty of guilt.

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