A study of cross-cultural and gender differences in the experience of jealousy.
Gender differences in the experience of jealousy have been the subject of research interest since the work of Freud. Recent research seems to indicate that males may be more distressed by their partners' sexual infidelity, whereas females are possibly more upset by emotional infidelity. Evolutionary psychologists believe these gender differences are the result of different adaptive problems faced by males and females over the course of evolutionary history. This view has been criticised by social psychologists and feminist theorists, who assert that gender differences in the experience of jealousy are the result of socialisation practices and power imbalances in society. This study examined gender differences in the experience of jealousy in a cross-cultural sample. The results provided only partial support for the evolutionary model. Strongly significant gender differences were found, but the difference was driven mostly by a large majority female dislike of emotional infidelity. Males across the sample were ambivalent, selecting sexual and emotional infidelity as approximately equally distressing. Significant cultural differences were found, suggesting that cultural factors may play a part in the experience of jealousy.