Thursday, January 19, 2006

You must be schadenfreuding me

"Women who seek to be equal to men, lack ambition."
-Timothy Leary

It turns out that the ability to really enjoy revenge is mainly a guy thing, according to a new study. Women, it turns out, really suck at enjoying the pain of their rivals, according to Nature magazine. (And anybody who believes that has never divorced a woman.)

There's actually a fancy name for this characteristic: Schadenfreude, or the malicious enjoyment derived from other people's troubles. It combines the German words for "damage" and "joy" (pronounced SHAH-den-froy-duh.)

And male superiority in schadenfreude is possibly the result of evolution, the researchers at the University College of London said. "Lower male empathy may have something to do with their ability in keeping the society together by being able to coldly dole out sentences," they said.

Hold the phone ... men were only superior to women when the victim deserved it, the study said. "They expressed more desire for revenge and seemed to feel satisfaction when unfair people were given what they perceived as deserved physical punishment," said one article.

Otherwise, men showed the same empathy as women when the victim was being punished unfairly. "These results suggest that fairness in social situations shapes the nature of the emotional link we have to other people," said Dr. Tania Singer.

Well, this still doesn't explain a billion years of spurned women whose furies Hell hath none of, but you can't argue with science.

WARNING: Men, do not use the word "schadenfreude" in the presence of your male friends. They will take great pleasure in making you suffer for being a geeky sissy. That's how schadenfreude works.


TexasFred said...

Like Lewis Grizzard said, "I'll never marry again, I think I'll just find a woman I hate, and buy her a house... "

When Grizzard died, we lost a trmendous wit...

Ranando said...


Great post.

Never been divorced, I always thought that when I saw trouble coming I would take her fishing.

Ranando said...


Let me know the next time your in the Los Angeles area, my wife and I would love to buy dinner and drinks.

Maybe I'll even wax up a board for ya.

Ron Franscell said...

Oh man, a 48-year-old Wyoming kid on a surfboard. The mind reels.

In fact, I was just in L.A. for a dear aunt's funeral in November. My mother and father both grew up in SoCal; one grandfather was a factory worker in Torrance, and the other a fancy-foods chef at the old Ambassador. So I spent a lot of time in my childhood on family vacations, and the place still has a visceral appeal to me. I love almost everything about L.A. except (like everyone else) the traffic.

But I would be delighted to share dinner and drinks! Maybe even a French-dip lunch at Philippe's downtown!

Ranando said...

We know it well, the best French Dip in LA.

Great, just let me know.

~Ivy said...

Aapparently science has never studied moms who have had their children hurt. You hurt my child I'll squeeze every ounce of pain out of you I can and then keep squeezing until there is nothing left.

I've met some women hell bent on revenge and they've enjoyed every minute of it.

"Sweet is revenge--especially to women. " ~Lord Byron