PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you’ve ever found yourself smirking when your annoying co-worker gets yelled at by the boss or felt a pang of satisfaction when that high school bully suddenly gained 50 pounds, relax.
You’re not evil, just human.
Recent research out of the University of Haifa reveals that kids as young as two find satisfaction in another’s misfortune.
The research, which was conducted in 2013 and published earlier this year in the journal PLOS One, looked at how jealousy and “schadenfreude,” or pleasure in another’s misfortune, develop by looking at equal and unequal conditions in the distribution of parental attention in 105 two- and three-year-olds.
Scientists say the fact that schadenfreude was observed in children as young as two shows that the emotion “may have evolved as a response to unfair allocation of resources.”
“These findings imply that social comparison and sensitivity to fairness develop early in life further highlighting the evolutionary significance of positive reactions to the termination of an unfair situation,” the scientists conclude.
However, it’s not all good news for those who regularly experience joy at the expense of others:
“Considering the strong relationship between envy, jealousy and schadenfreude, it is possible that individuals with low self-esteem may experience more schadenfreude.”
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