From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Before She Met Me by Julian Barnes
Jealousy is an emotion, and the word typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a human connection. Jealousy often consists of a combination of emotions such as anger, resentment, inadequacy, helplessness and disgust. In its original meaning, jealousy is distinct from envy, though the two terms have popularly become synonymous in the English language, with jealousy now also taking on the definition originally used for envy alone. Jealousy is a typical experience in human relationships. It has been observed in infants five months and older. Some claim that jealousy is seen in every culture; however, others claim jealousy is a culture-specific phenomenon.
Jealousy is often reinforced as a series of particularly strong emotions and constructed as a universal human experience; it has been a theme of many artistic works. Psychologists have proposed several models of the processes underlying jealousy and have identified factors that result in jealousy. Sociologists have demonstrated that cultural beliefs and values play an important role in determining what triggers jealousy and what constitutes socially acceptable expressions of jealousy. Biologists have identified factors that may unconsciously influence the expression of jealousy. Artists have explored the theme of jealousy in photographs, paintings, movies, songs, plays, poems, and books. Theologians have offered religious views of jealousy based on the scriptures of their respective faiths.
Romantic jealousy can be expressed in five antecedent factors:
- Sociobiological factors
- Cultural and historical factors
- Personality factors
- Relational factors
- Situational factors and strategic factors.
Sociobiological factors deal with reproductive strategies. For males they can only ensure paternity by restricting the access or involvement of other males. Females are more inclined to find resources in a male to be more important than actual reproductive opportunities. Males used the following tactics more than females: a. resource display b. mate concealment c. submission and debasement d. inter sexual threats and violence. For cultural and historical factors males and females have similar states of emotions of jealousy as sociobiological factors. Personality factors include a third-party threat that stores jealousy in both males and females. Personality factors also vary based on love styles. Relational factors as well as emotional factors have been found to vary on comparison levels of commitment to the relationship as well as investment and the level of alternatives in the relationship. Situational factors include critical events that may induce jealousy in both males and females. Situational factors are very common and can be easily stimulated.
Sexual jealousy in humans may be triggered when a person's significant other displays sexual interest in another person. The feeling of jealousy may be just as powerful if one partner suspects the other is guilty of Infidelity. Fearing that their partner will experience sexual jealousy the person who has been unfaithful may lie about their actions in order to protect their partner. Experts often believe that sexual jealousy is in fact a biological imperative. It may be part of a mechanism by which humans and animals ensure access to the best reproductive partners.
According to the Parental Investment Model based on parental investment theory, more men than women ratify sex differences in jealousy. In addition, more women over men consider emotional infidelity (fear of abandonment) as more distressing than sexual infidelity. According to attachment theory, sex, and attachment style makes significant and unique interactive contributions to the distress experienced. Security within the relationship also heavily contributed to one’s distress level. These findings imply that psychological and cultural mechanism regarding sex differences may play a larger role than expected (Levy,Blatt, Schachner.) Attachment theory also reveals how infant attachment patterns are the basis for a self-report measures of adult attachment. (Levy, Blatt & Shaner, 1998). Although there are no sex differences, in childhood attachment individuals with dismissing behavior was more concerned with the sexual aspect of relationships (Schachner & shaer, 2004). As a coping mechanism these individuals would report sexual infidelity as more harmful. Moreover, research shows that audit attachment styles strongly conclude with the type of infidelity that occurred. Thus psychological and cultural mechanisms are implied as unvarying differences in jealousy that play a role in sexual attachment.
Emotional jealousy was predicted to be nine times more responsive in females than in males. The emotional jealousy predicted in females also held turn to state that females experiencing emotional jealousy are more violent than men experiencing emotional jealousy. This correlates with some culture norms that the United States places on women, implying that they should be more emotionally responsive than males. Society has associated emotion in males to be contained and not expressed in the ways that women tend to express their emotions. This social norm held true when males in a study chose to keep a level head and process and gather information before "talking it out."
There are distinct emotional responses to gender differences in romantic relationships (Buss, Green & Saboni 2004). For example, due to paternity uncertainty in males, jealousy increases in males over sexual infidelity rather than emotional. According to research more women are likely to be upset by signs of resource withdraw (i.e. another female) than by sexual infidelity. A large amount of data supports this notion. However, one must consider for jealousy the life stage or experience one encounters in reference to the diverse responses to infidelity available. Research states that a componential view of jealousy consist of specific set of emotions that serve the reproductive role. However, research shows that both men and women would be equally angry and point the blame for sexual infidelity, but women would be more hurt by emotional infidelity. Despite this fact, anger surfaces when both parties involved is responsible for some type of uncontrollable behavior, sexual conduct is not exempt. (Sabbini and Silver, Averill 1995). Some behavior and actions are controllable such as sexual behavior. However hurt feelings are activated by relationship deviation. No evidence is known to be sexually dimorphic in both college and adult convenience samples. The Jealousy Specific Innate Model (JSIM) proved to not be innate, but may be sensitive to situational factors. As a result it may only activate at stages in on. One study discovered serious relationships are reserved for older adults rather than undergraduates. For example, Buss et al. (1992) predicted that male jealousy decreases as females reproductive values decreases.
A second possibility that the JSIM effect is not innate but is from one culture (Desieno et al., 2002) Kitayana (2004) have highlighted differences in socio-economic status specific such as the divide between high school and collegiate individuals. Moreover, individuals of both genders were angrier and blamed their partners more for sexual infidelities but were more hurt by emotional (Sabini & Green 2004). Jealousy is composed of lower-level emotional states (e.g., anger and hurt) which may be triggered by a variety of events, not by differences in individuals' life stage. Although research has recognized the importance of early childhood experiences for the development of competence in intimate relationships, early family environment is recently being examined as well (Richardson and Guyer, 1998). Research on self-esteem and attachment theory suggest that individuals internalize early experiences within the family which subconsciously translates into their personal view of worth of themselves and the value of being close to other individuals, especially in an interpersonal relationship (Steinberg, Davila, & Fincham, 2006).
The word stems from the French jalousie, formed from jaloux (jealous), and further from Low Latin zelosus (full of zeal), in turn from the Greek word ζήλος (zēlos), sometimes "jealousy", but more often in a positive sense "emulation, ardour, zeal" (with a root connoting "to boil, ferment"; or "yeast").
Since William Shakespeare's use of terms like "green-eyed monster", the color green has been associated with jealousy and envy, from which the expressions "green with envy", are derived.
People do not express jealousy through a single emotion or a single behavior. They instead express jealousy through diverse emotions and behaviors, which makes it difficult to form a scientific definition of jealousy. Scientists instead define jealousy in their own words, as illustrated by the following examples:
- "Romantic jealousy is here defined as a complex of thoughts, feelings, and actions which follow threats to self-esteem and/or threats to the existence or quality of the relationship, when those threats are generated by the perception of a real or potential attraction between one's partner and a (perhaps imaginary) rival." (White, 1981, p. 24)
- "Jealousy, then, is any aversive reaction that occurs as the result of a partner's extradyadic relationship that is real, imagined, or considered likely to occur." (Bringle & Buunk, 1991, page 135)
- "Jealousy is conceptualized as a cognitive, emotional, and behavioral response to a relationship threat. In the case of sexual jealousy, this threat emanates from knowing or suspecting that one's partner has had (or desires to have) sexual activity with a third party. In the case of emotional jealousy, an individual feels threatened by her or his partner's emotional involvement with and/or love for a third party." (Guerrero, Spitzberg, & Yoshimura, 2004, page 311)
- "Jealousy is defined as a protective reaction to a perceived threat to a valued relationship, arising from a situation in which the partner's involvement with an activity and/or another person is contrary to the jealous person's definition of their relationship." (Bevan, 2004, page 195)
- "Jealousy is triggered by the threat of separation from, or loss of, a romantic partner, when that threat is attributed to the possibility of the partner's romantic interest in another person." (Sharpteen & Kirkpatrick, 1997, page 628)
These definitions of jealousy share two basic themes. First, all the definitions imply a triad composed of a jealous individual, a partner, and a perception of a third party or rival. Second, all the definitions describe jealousy as a reaction to a perceived threat to the relationship between two people, or a dyad. Jealous reactions typically involve aversive emotions and/or behaviors that are assumed to be protective for their attachment relationships. These themes form the essential meaning of jealousy in most scientific studies.
Comparison with envy
Popular culture uses the word jealousy as a synonym for envy. Many dictionary definitions include a reference to envy or envious feelings. In fact, the overlapping use of jealousy and envy has a long history.
The terms are used indiscriminately in such popular 'feelgood' books as Nancy Friday's Jealousy, where the expression 'jealousy' applies to a broad range of passions, from envy to lust and greed. While this kind of usage blurs the boundaries between categories that are intellectually valuable and psychologically justifiable, such confusion is understandable in that historical explorations of the term indicate that these boundaries have long posed problems. Margot Grzywacz's fascinating etymological survey of the word in Romance and Germanic languages asserts, indeed, that the concept was one of those that proved to be the most difficult to express in language and was therefore among the last to find an unambiguous term. Classical Latin used invidia, without strictly differentiating between envy and jealousy. It was not until the postclassical era that Latin borrowed the late and poetic Greek word zelotypia and the associated adjective zelosus. It is from this adjective that are derived French jaloux, Provençal gelos, Italian geloso, and Spanish celoso. (Lloyd, 1995, page 4)
Perhaps the overlapping use of jealousy and envy occurs because people can experience both at the same time. A person may envy the characteristics or possessions of someone who also happens to be a romantic rival. In fact, one may even interpret romantic jealousy as a form of envy. A jealous person may envy the affection that his or her partner gives to a rival — affection the jealous person feels entitled to himself or herself. People often use the word jealousy as a broad label that applies to both experiences of jealousy and experiences of envy.
Although popular culture often uses jealousy and envy as synonyms, modern philosophers and psychologists have argued for conceptual distinctions between jealousy and envy. For example, philosopher John Rawls distinguishes between jealousy and envy on the ground that jealousy involves the wish to keep what one has, and envy the wish to get what one does not have. Thus, a child is jealous of her parents' attention to a sibling, but envious of her friend's new bicycle. Psychologists Laura Guerrero and Peter Andersen have proposed the same distinction. They claim the jealous person "perceives that he or she possesses a valued relationship, but is in danger of losing it or at least of having it altered in an undesirable manner," whereas the envious person "does not possess a valued commodity, but wishes to possess it." Gerrod Parrott draws attention to the distinct thoughts and feelings that occur in jealousy and envy.
The common experience of jealousy for many people may involve:
- Fear of loss
- Suspicion of or anger about a perceived betrayal
- Low self-esteem and sadness over perceived loss
- Uncertainty and loneliness
- Fear of losing an important person to another
The experience of envy involves:
- Feelings of inferiority
- Resentment of circumstances
- Ill will towards envied person often accompanied by guilt about these feelings
- Motivation to improve
- Desire to possess the attractive rival's qualities
- Disapproval of feelings
Parrot acknowledges that people can experience envy and jealousy at the same time. Feelings of envy about a rival can even intensify the experience of jealousy. Still, the differences between envy and jealousy in terms of thoughts and feelings justify their distinction in philosophy and science.
Jealousy involves an entire "emotional episode," including a complex "narrative,": the circumstances that lead up to jealousy, jealousy itself as emotion, any attempt at self regulation, subsequent actions and events and the resolution of the episode (Parrott, 2001, p. 306). The narrative can originate from experienced facts, thoughts, perceptions, memories, but also imagination, guess and assumptions. The more society and culture matter in the formation of these factors, the more jealousy can have a social and cultural origin. By contrast, Goldie (2000, p. 228) shows how jealousy can be a "cognitively impenetrable state", where education and rational belief matter very little.
One possible explanation of the origin of jealousy in evolutionary psychology is that the emotion evolved in order to maximize the success of our genes: it is a biologically based emotion (Prinz after Buss and Larsen, 2004, p. 120) selected to foster the certainty about the paternity of one’s own offspring. A jealous behavior, in men, is directed into avoiding sexual betrayal and a consequent waste of resources and effort in taking care of someone else’s offspring. There are, additionally, cultural or social explanations of the origin of jealousy. According to one, the narrative from which jealousy arises can be in great part made by the imagination. Imagination is strongly affected by a person's cultural milieu. The pattern of reasoning, the way one perceives situations, depends strongly on cultural context. It has elsewhere been suggested that jealousy is in fact a secondary emotion in reaction to one's needs not being met, be those needs for attachment, attention, reassurance or any other form of care that would be otherwise expected to arise from that primary romantic relationship.
While mainstream psychology considers sexual arousal through jealousy a paraphilia, some authors on sexuality (Serge Kreutz, Instrumental Jealousy) have argued that jealousy in manageable dimensions can have a definite positive effect on sexual function and sexual satisfaction. Studies have also shown that jealousy sometimes heightens passion towards partners and increases the intensity of passionate sex.
Jealousy in children and teenagers has been observed more often in those with low self-esteem and can evoke aggressive reactions. One such study suggested that developing intimate friends can be followed by emotional insecurity and loneliness in some children when those intimate friends interact with others. Jealousy is linked to aggression and low self-esteem. Research by Sybil Hart, Ph.D., at Texas Tech University indicates that children are capable of feeling and displaying jealousy at as young as six months. Infants showed signs of distress when their mothers focused their attention on a lifelike doll. This research could explain why children and infants show distress when a sibling is born, creating the foundation for sibling rivalry.
Anthropologists have claimed that jealousy varies across cultures. Cultural learning can influence the situations that trigger jealousy and the manner in which jealousy is expressed. Attitudes toward jealousy can also change within a culture over time. For example, attitudes toward jealousy changed substantially during the 1960s and 1970s in the United States. People in the United States adopted much more negative views about jealousy.
In fiction, film, and art
Artistic depictions of jealousy occur in fiction, films, and other art forms such as painting and sculpture. Jealousy is the powerful complex of emotions experienced at the loss, real or imagined, of something or someone you believe is yours, whereas envy concerns what you do not have and would like to possess. In Shakespeare's play Othello, the title character is filled with jealousy at the thought of losing his beloved Desdemona: his ensign, Iago, is consumed with envy of Othello’s prestige. Because jealous lovers tell multiple stories about those who arouse their jealousy, and because the emotion is so corrosive, jealousy is a common theme in literature, art, theatre, and film.
In more modern films jealousy is still expressed as an emotion or loss of a real or imagined belief of something that a person once obtained. Some films that portray jealousy with the target audience being young children is Cinderella, Snow White and Toy Story. All three are Disney movies with a message of jealousy among characters. The movie Cinderella originated as a folk tale and was turned into a movie in 1950 by Walt Disney. The story line includes Lady Tremaine who is jealous of her step daughter Cinderella because of the loss of attention that she receives from her husband when Cinderella is around. The jealousy continues after Lady Tremaine’s husband dies and she becomes a widow. Lady Tremaine treats Cinderella with no respect due to her emotions of jealousy and envy. Snow White is also a folk story turned into an animated film. Producer Walt Disney produces the story line of step mother being jealous of her step daughter now being the "fairest in the land" she is also very envious of her beauty. This results in the Queen, Snow White’s step mom hiring a hunter to kill her and bring back her heart. The third animated Disney movie that jealousy plays a strong role in is Toy Story. Woody, the original toy that the boy owns, becomes jealous of the boy’s new toy Buzz Lightyear. This jealousy is relevant because Woody no longer gets played with like he used to. Woody eventually overcomes his jealousy and in the end is friends with Buzz Lightyear.
- Compersion — jealousy's opposite — empathizing with a lover's joy with another.
- Crime of passion
- Morbid jealousy
- Jealousy delusion
- Jealousy in art
- Jealousy in religion
- Morbid jealousy
- Obsessive jealousy
- Social aspects of jealousy
- Relational transgression
- Relationship obsessive–compulsive disorder
- Sexual jealousy in humans