In her review of Richard H. Smith's The Joy of Pain: Schadenfreude and the Dark Side of Human Nature, Tanya Telfair LeBlanc notes how we like to look at car accidents, watch TV programs that show others' pain (e.g., Maury), and read the grocery store tabloids.
Assuming that these behaviors are undesirable, what could psychologists do to teach people, especially young people, to not take such delight in others' pain? Perhaps these efforts would even be a first step toward increasing prosocial behavior (or at least decreasing more negative or aggressive behavior). What stakeholders should be involved—churches, schools, private groups (e.g., Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts), family members, etc.? Who knows—maybe success would even decrease the popularity and number of reality shows.
By Tanya Telfair LeBlanc
PsycCRITIQUES, 2014 Vol 59(14)