Human Behavior: Jealousy

Human Behavior: Jealousy

Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

I think almost everyone has experienced the feeling of being jealous some point in your life. Even over something small like, “Wow, I’m jealous Emily has no homework, but I have loads of homework.” If for some reason you haven’t experienced it or don’t know what it is, let me explain, jealousy is an emotion that can range from several different things, suspicion, to rage or fear to humiliation. But why do people feel this way? Evolutionary psychologists say it should be seen as a signal or a wake-up call that a valued relationship is in danger and that steps need to be taken to regain the affection of a mate or friend. Yet it also engages people to try and keep important relationships.

Men and women both feel jealousy. People often question, who feels it more though? Research shows that men tend to feel more jealousy towards cheating (whether is happened or not) and women feel more jealousy about emotional infidelity. You might have experienced this hands-on which I can believe isn’t ideal at all. To help limit the feeling of jealousy it is best to accept that jealousy IS normal,  challenging negative thoughts, and practicing mindfulness may all help reduce its pull. When jealousy is overwhelming, talking to a therapist can help enormously.

The evolution of jealousy is very similar to the definition of jealousy. In a traditional evolutionary psychology model, jealousy is an inherited response that once increased our chances of survival. The men tend to argue that the jealousy is primarily a response to potential or already happening sexual threats to the relationship they are in. The alleged reason for this is that if our male ancestors could be sure that they were the actual fathers of the children they provided for, they were guaranteed to have their DNA passed on. Although the women experience this a little differently, they argue that the jealousy is primarily a response to a potential or already happening emotional threat in the relationship they are in. This eventually gave rise to men with a sex-jealousy gene and women with an emotional-jealousy gene.

Although the evolutionary root of jealousy might not be exactly evolved from sexual or emotional competition, but from the endowment effect. The endowment effect doesn’t fully explain jealousy, but refers to the further factor of cultural which means the tendency to consider our partner and our sexual and emotional property. This ends up providing us with exclusive rights of intimacy with them.



5 thoughts on “Human Behavior: Jealousy”

  • I really enjoyed this piece on jealousy. I liked how you broke it down. I know what being jealous means but the way it was explained above made it really clear. I also liked all of the links you included. I thought you did a great job going into depth about the evolution of jealousy and how it affects men and women differently.

  • Really good job on this post about jealousy, I’ve always found this topic very interesting. We all give into jealousy some point in our life and as the evolution of jealousy is very similar to the definition it really is a cool topic.

  • Very nice ideas! I did the same topic but we explained them in different ways. It allowed me to see how another person sees/researched about it.

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