ENVY & When Your Gain Is My Pain and Your Pain Is My Gain: How you are programmed to envy others

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “There is a reason we envy other people’s success and that we rejoice when they fall from grace. And scientists have found this is built into the chemical reactions of our brain. This should be further evidence that an inclination toward sin is built into each of us … to which Christ offers the ultimate answer.”

Journal article by Hidehiko Takahashi1,2,3,*, Motoichiro Kato4, Masato Matsuura2, Dean Mobbs5, Tetsuya Suhara1, Yoshiro Okubo6, Science Magazine, vol. 323, no. 5916, pp. 937-939


We often evaluate the self and others from social comparisons. We feel envy when the target person has superior and self-relevant characteristics. Schadenfreude occurs when envied persons fall from grace. To elucidate the neurocognitive mechanisms of envy and schadenfreude, we conducted two functional magnetic resonance imaging studies. In study one, the participants read information concerning target persons characterized by levels of possession and self-relevance of comparison domains. When the target person’s possession was superior and self-relevant, stronger envy and stronger anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) activation were induced. In study two, stronger schadenfreude and stronger striatum activation were induced when misfortunes happened to envied persons. ACC activation in study one predicted ventral striatum activation in study two. Our findings document mechanisms of painful emotion, envy, and a rewarding reaction, schadenfreude.

Read more at … http://www.sciencemag.org/content/323/5916/937