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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 04-Dec-09

 


Friday 04-December-09

Jealous in love

"Jealousy can no more bear to lose sight of [its] objects than love" George Eliot (1860)
 

What's the difference between envy and jealousy? I spent years thinking they were the same thing until someone told me to think of the difference between a jealous husband and an envious husband. Envy is avaricious desire, wanting what someone else has. Jealousy is fear of loss that easily becomes aggressive and sometimes displaced defence.

Both envy and jealousy are common in romantic situations, as the jealous lover fends off the envious suitor. So how does jealousy work in practice?

Researcher Jon Maner and colleagues triggered feelings of jealousy in study subjects and watched what happened next. They found that the jealous person moves to a heightened sense of alertness as the scan the environment for signs of potential rivals. They look in particular for attractive faces and memorise these as potential threats, forming negative attitudes towards them.

So if you are attractive, watch for the jealous types defending against you, even if you are wholly innocent. And if you are the 'jealous guy' (or gal) watch yourself -- your aggression may precipitate a change in affections in the object of your defensive attitude.
 

Reference:
Jon Maner, Saul Miller, Aaron Rouby, & Matthew Gailliot (2009). Intrasexual vigilance: The implicit cognition of romantic rivalry. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 74-87.


Your comments


I, too, didn't know the difference between the two, until I came across 'The_Ethical_Slut', by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt, which did a great job of making me think about the difference between the two and about the many varied and complex forms that jealousy can take. Recommended reading.

-- Dan Q


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