Jealousy is an emotion that is typically associated with negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity. Jealousy is often a combination of anger, sadness and resentment. The experience of jealousy may include fear of loss, suspicion or anger about a perceived betrayal, uncertainty, loneliness and distrust.
Jealousy has been scientifically defined as the fear of an anticipated loss of a valued aspect in a human relationship. A jealous situation is comprised of three individuals. The jealous person, A, has an assumed relationship with a second person, B. A becomes jealous when he or she thinks that C is acting in a manner that infringes on his or her relationship with B.
Jealousy is often mistakenly confused with envy. Envy is the emotion that occurs when a person desires a quality, achievement or possession that another party enjoys. Envy does not refer to the relationship connoted by jealousy.
The most often discussed and researched jealousy is romantic jealousy. In romantic jealousy, one partner becomes jealous if the second partner spends time and gives attention to an outsider. The jealous person believes that this attention detracts from the attention that he or she should be receiving from the other partner.
Jealousy can also appear in numerous other human relationships. Sibling rivalry is a common form of family jealousy. This jealousy is based on the child's fear that a sibling is receiving undue attention from the parents. Other forms of family jealousy may be one parent's jealousy over the time and attention that the second parent gives to childcare.
Workplace jealousy takes place when one employee is jealous of the praise, promotion or positive feedback that another colleague receives. The worker may believe that this attention to his or her colleague detracts from the attention given to his or her own work achievements.
Jealousy can also crop up in platonic relationships. One friend may be jealous of his or her friend's new dating partner if the friend starts spending all his or her free time discussing or thinking about the new romantic relationship.
When partners feel relational uncertainty in a relationship, they experience a negative, jealousy-related emotion. Researchers contend that jealousy serves an important function, since it alerts individuals to the status of their relationship and helps them identify relationship rivals. Jealousy therefore helps people maintain their important relationships. Since jealousy serves an important function, it does not deserve the negative label that it has assumed.
When feeling jealousy, a partner expresses this emotion to the target of the jealousy. When the jealous target becomes aware of the relational uncertainty, it tends to lead him or her to think about the relationship as a whole. It is beneficial for the jealous partner to express jealousy in a constructive manner in order to support and foster the relationship.
Jealousy expresses itself in three ways. The first is a direct, non-aggressive communication that involves disclosures and reassurances. This type of jealous expression often has positive, constructive consequences.
Neutral expressions involve nonverbal communications, such as crying or acting anxious or hurt, which can be observed by the jealous target. These expressions are neutral, because their consequences often depend on the reactions to them, and further discussions between the jealous party and the jealous target. The third type of jealousy expression is negative, and includes aggressive messages, including sarcasm, accusations and sometimes violence.
Jealousy is often associated with vengeance. Studies have shown that people with high levels of jealousy often have a strong desire for revenge. Aligned with this finding is the fact that people with lower forgiveness scores also have greater vengeance scores. This fact may help people identify others who are jealous of them and most likely to perpetrate acts of revenge. Through early detection, these acts of revenge may be thwarted.