Relativistic origins of emotional reactions to events happening to others and to ourselves

Richard H. Smith, Heidi L. Eyre, Caitlin A.J. Powell, Sung Hee Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The purpose of the present study was to show that people's emotional reactions to both good and bad events happening to others can be influenced by how their own experiences compare with these events. Female undergraduate students took a test of intellectual ability and received false feedback suggesting that they had done well or poorly. Later, they viewed written feedback apparently given to another participant suggesting that she had performed well or poorly. Finally, participants gave their emotional reactions to their own performance as well as the performance of the other participant. Results showed that participants' relative performance influenced how happy they felt for the high performing other participant and how sad they felt for the low performing other participant. Participants' self-focused emotions of pride and shame were also affected by the relative performance of the other participant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-371
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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