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Sexual Competition Causes Jealousy and Envy More to Women than to Men

Update Date: May 04, 2012 12:51 AM EDT

Sexual competition affects women more than men in raising jealousy and envy in a work environment, according to a recent study.

The study of analyzing the differences between men and women in feeling jealous and envious was published in the journal Revista de Psicología Sociai by a group of researchers from universities in Valencia, Spain, Groningen, Netherlands, and Palermo, Argentina. Women are more likely to feel jealous and envy in a sexual competition than men, while social skills provoked men and women equally.

“Women with a high level of intrasexual competition are more jealous if the rival is more attractive and more envious if the rival is more powerful and dominating. They did not get any results in men, as no rival characteristics that provoke jealousy or envy predicted intrasexual competition,” co-author Rosario Zurriaga at University of Valencia told Servico de Información y Noticias Científicas (SINC).

Intrasexual competition, as the study defined, is a competition between same sex people trying to keep access to the opposite sex. The group of researchers distributed questionnaires to around 200 people and chose 114 as the sample for the exploratory study. The sample was 50 percent men and 50 percent women, and they had an average age of 36 years and spent 11 years in their current employment.

The studied defined jealously as “a threat or loss of success in a relationship due to interference from a rival and implies a loss or threat of loss of what they had” and envy as “a response to another person who has success, skills, or qualities that they desire and involves a lack in comparison to the envied person”.

Sexual competition made women feel jealous and envious more so than men. Rival’s social skills, however, provoked both men and women equally.

“Our research intends to clarify the role of emotions like envy and jealousy at work. These feelings have not been studied in working contexts and can cause stress in workers and negatively affect the quality of working life,” said the researcher.

“This is one of the first studies that examines rivals’ characteristics in this environment and contributes to a better understanding of conflicts and problems that can occur in working relationships,” they said.

The study implied that in order to prevent the negative effects, they should modify aspects such as the perception of threat, loss, or comparison with others at work.

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