Wilco W. van Dijk (Leiden University),  Guido M. van Koningsbruggen (Utrecht University),  Jaap W. Ouwerkerk and Yoka M. Wesseling (VU University Amsterdam) in year 2011 conducted a study about self-esteem, self-affirmation regarding schadenfreude. The researchers conducted two studies regarding schadenfreude in which the participants of first study were 70 undergraduates (40 women, 30 men) and 42 undergraduates (28 women , 14 men) were of second study.

The findings revealed that low achievers having low self-esteem suffer more from schadenfreude as compared to the ones with high self-esteem. This relationship develops a sense of self-threat evoked by the high achiever. When there is no self-affirmation opportunity available the self-threat in participants with low-esteem grows stronger when confronted with high-esteem participants and this low self-esteem leads to schadenfreude. The study also proved that the misfortune of others evoke schadenfreude as it provides an opportunity for them to protect their perceptions. The demise of high achievers creates a sense of excitement among low self-esteem participants which significantly proves that self-confidence is not related to schadenfreude.

The present research contributes to the body of literature by proving three hypotheses. First hypothesis shows that there exists a significant negative relation between self-esteem and schadenfreude and revealing both mediating and moderating variables in this relationship. Second, findings show that schadenfreude can represent a visible response to self-threat. This is in line with the earlier research according to which self-threat was manipulated and was found to enhance schadenfreude following the misfortune of other individuals.  Third, the present study and findings provide a strong notion that self-enhancement and self- protection can easily evoke schadenfreude.   

The authors suggested that self-confidence and high self-esteem is not related to schadenfreude and a participant should develop a sense of self-confidence. Self-confidence will help in boosting  self-esteem and achieve more. Eventually, it will not cause an increase in schadenfreude.