Their pain, our pleasure
Presenter: Mina Cikara, Assistant Professor, Harvard University
2121 Berkeley Way, Room 1104
If humans are innately good, cooperative, fair, and averse to harming one another, why does widespread intergroup conflict persist? Several factors contribute to fomenting hostility between groups; in my talk I will focus on the role of pleasure in response to out-group pain. People who identify strongly with their social groups frequently experience pleasure when they observe threatening out-group members’ misfortunes: a phenomenon termed intergroup Schadenfreude. Though people are generally averse to harming others, they may learn to overcome this aversion via the consistent pairing of subjective pleasure with out-group pain, thereby lowering the barrier to participating in out-group harm. I will review a series of behavioral, fMRI, and electromyography studies exploring this phenomenon and its relationship to out-group harm.