Sexual rivalry at work makes women more jealous than men

5 May

Women get jealous at work if their rival is more attractive and powerful than they are, according to a study of ‘intrasexual competition’ – but the green-eyed monster doesn’t affect men at all if they find themselves competing with other men.

A tongue-in-cheek view of sexual rivalry at work. (istockphoto.com/JanMika)

Researchers from universities in Valencia, Spain, Groningen, Netherlands, and Palermo, Argentina, studied the sex differences in jealousy and envy in the workplace, and published their findings in the Revista de Psicología Sociai.

Study co-author Rosario Zurriaga, from the University of Valencia, said: “Women with a high level of intra-sexual competition are more jealous if the rival is more attractive, and more envious if the rival is more powerful and dominating. [We] did not get any results in men, as no rival characteristics that provoke jealousy or envy predicted intrasexual competition.”

Here, jealousy is defined as fear of losing what you have, and someone taking something treasured away from you (hence the feelings of jealousy for someone deemed attractive) – and envy is defined as feeling ‘less than’ someone who has the power and qualities you would like yourself (hence envy for women with more power and status).

Zurriaga added: “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.” The report recommends that to prevent these negative effects, women should not compare themselves with others at work, and look at why they feel threatened about losing something.

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