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Why we feel better when bad things happen to other people

‘Schadenfreude’ book cover

A delightful book, full of jokes and confessions


A hilarious quest to understand life’s ultimate guilty pleasure.

In ‘Schadenfreude’, historian of emotions Tiffany Watt Smith offers expert insight and advice. Ranging across thinkers from Nietzsche to Homer Simpson, investigating the latest scientific research, and collecting some outrageous confessions on the way, she reveals how everyone – babies, nuns, your most trusted friends – is enjoying your misfortunes. But rather than an emotional glitch, she argues, schadenfreude can reveal profound truths about our relationships with others and our sense of who we are.

Frank, warm and laugh-out-loud funny, ‘Schadenfreude’ makes the case for thinking afresh about this much-maligned emotion – and perhaps even embracing it.

Read an extract from the book

Date published
160 pages

About the author

Black and white photo portrait of woman

Tiffany Watt Smith

Tiffany Watt Smith is a cultural historian and author of ‘The Book of Human Emotions’. Her TED talk ‘The History of Human Emotions’ has been viewed by more than four million people. She regularly appears as an expert contributor on BBC radio and her writing has appeared in the Guardian, the New Scientist and BBC News Magazine, among others. She is Reader in Cultural History at Queen Mary University of London, where she is also Director of the Centre for the History of Emotions. In 2018 she was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize for her research.