Neural mechanism underlying the suppressing effect of self-esteem on envy and schadenfreude
Shohei Yamazaki1, Motoaki Sugiura1, Kelssy H. dos S. Kawata1, Yukako Sasaki1, Rui Nouchi1, Kohei Sakaki1, Shigeyuki Ikeda1, Ryuta Kawashima1; 1Tohoku University
Envy and the resultant schadenfreude, the sources of various negative social behaviors, are known to have a negative correlation with self-esteem. We investigated if boosting self-esteem suppress these negative emotions and sought to identify the neural mechanism underlying the effect. We employed 40 university students and divided them into an intervention group and a control group. The intervention group was administrated a five-minute semi structured interview and told to remember a situation in which they felt relaxed in a past social experience, which is known to enhance self-esteem (Hulme., 2012). And then a similar interview to remember a solitary situation in which they didn’t feel relaxed was administrated to the control group. Subjective rating of their state self-esteem, envy and schadenfreude as well as the fMRI images during the task which induce envy and schadenfreude using a virtual scenario (Takahashi et al., 2009) were acquired before and after the intervention. Self-esteem rating increased and envy and schadenfreude rating decreased only in intervention group. Activation of the dorsal anterior cingulate and ventral striatum, previously shown to reflect envy and schadenfreude (Takahashi et al., 2009), during respective scenarios was reduced in the intervention group. Importantly, we used a 2(session: before, after) × 2(group: intervention, control) ANOVA and found that the functional connectivity between the medial prefrontal cortex(MPFC), previously shown to index self-esteem, and these regions only increased in the intervention group. We thus demonstrated that boosting self-esteem suppresses envy and schadenfreude through enhanced functional connectivity of the MPFC and the affection-related regions.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Other