Comparative advertisements and schadenfreude: when and why others’ unfortunate choices make us happy

Ozge Aybat, Thomas Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Comparative advertisements often feature situations depicting consumers who use competitors’ brands being subjected to misfortunes. We examine schadenfreude, the pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others, as an affective response elicited by comparative ads, as well as consumers’ beliefs in tempting fate as a heretofore unexamined influence thereof. Consistent with our theory, we show that comparative ads depicting the misfortunes involving lower-quality (vs. higher-quality) competitors elicit greater schadenfreude, and that this is because choosing the former is perceived to tempt fate and to be more deserving of misfortune than the latter. Moreover, heightened levels of schadenfreude in turn lead to more positive attitudes and increased purchase intentions among consumers who are more (vs. less) reluctant to tempt fate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-589
Number of pages11
JournalMarketing Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

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