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Is It Natural to Be Glad When Others Are Sad?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Ever revel in someone's misfortune?

Don't be too ashamed if you do.  Two researchers say the condition the Germans have termed "schadenfreude" can actually be biological, not always pathological.

To test out the theory that envy is a prelude to those who take delight when others fail, Carnegie Mellon University assistant professor Mina Cikara and Princeton professor Susan Fiske learned that people do tend to smile more when an individual that they envy has a problem or experiences discomfort.

Cikara and Fiske then gave two different examples. The reason why other nations enjoy the U.S. getting embarrassed is that "the American government is seen as high status and competent but not necessarily as a group sharing other people's or countries' goals."

They then talked about the high level of competition at workplaces, which can be counterproductive since "people might be preoccupied with bringing other people down, and that's not what an organization wants."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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