Even Toddlers Feel What Is Schadenfreude

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By Indrani Bhattacharyya | July 14, 2014 2:46 PM EST

Schadenfreude or obtaining pleasure and joy over someone else’s misfortune, isn't something strictly restricted to adults.

A new report suggests that even a two years old child gets to realise this complicated emotion.

Reuters
Cali Farmer, 4, (L) cries as she hugs her mother Netta Farmer at California Institute for Women state prison in Chino, California May 5, 2012.

Scientists in University of Haifa, Israel, observed interactions between 35 mothers with their children and other child. Specifically, a mother was asked either to read aloud to herself while her child played with a friend or to read a book out loud, while cuddling the child’s friend. Under both the circumstances, the mother was further instructed to spill water on the book after two minutes.

It was found that when the water got spilled on the book while the mother was reading it to the friend of her child, her own baby turned out to be happy.

But the authors made an important note “the toddlers aren’t laughing at someone’s terrible misfortune, they are happy when what is perceived as an unequal situation ends.”

This study reveals that children are very self focused and practical, said Dr Deborah Gilboa, a parenting expert who was not a part of this work.

In this situation, the children thought that mother only has enough attention for one child, Gilboa suggested.

There is the possibility that children with low self-esteem may feel it more, but more research is needed to shed more light over this concept.

Researches revealed that a baby can show sign of showing sympathy before turning a year old.

Jealousy is one such emotion which needs to be dealt carefully to instill certain values and that is best done by the parents while a child is growing up.

Experts like Gilboa feel parents should play a huge role to provide proper emotional guidance to their children.

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(Photo: Reuters / Lucy Nicholson)
Cali Farmer, 4, (L) cries as she hugs her mother Netta Farmer at California Institute for Women state prison in Chino, California May 5, 2012.
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