The Causes and Effects of Jealousy

Updated on December 22, 2016

Jealousy is described as the emotional attitude of wishing not to lose something that is important to the subject’s self-definition to someone else (Ben-Ze’ev, 1990, pg. 489). An ancient and primitive emotion, jealously can lead to impulsive or reckless decisions, the creation of harm, the ruin of relationships, and an overall destructive state of mind. As with most emotions, it manifests itself differently from individual to individual, but most would agree that when experienced, it can often be overwhelming.

Jealousy is often associated with sexual relationships, but it can also manifest itself in relationships between siblings, friends, supposed social rivals and many other affiliations. The causes of jealousy vary from situation to situation, but are all associated with one feeling that something of value that they possess could be lost to another. The primary effects of jealousy are usually emotional and experienced by the individual alone. Secondary effects arise from how the subject reacts to that emotion.

It is theorized that jealousy in humans is a primitive emotion that evolved due to selective pressures during the Pleistocene Epoch (Harris, 2004, pg. 64). It is speculated that it was evolutionarily favorable for females to become jealous of potential sexual rivals, for if the male were to choose another mate he would take the resources he provided with him. This would leave her with no means to take care of herself and any offspring she may have had. Males, on the other hand, could never be completely certain of paternity, and did not want to waste their resources on an offspring that did not carry their genetic material. Jealousy was a response to prospective threats to the continuance of their own genetic lineage.

In today’s society jealousy can be sparked by a potential threat to one’s mate, social standing, emotional and physical well-being or resources. Infidelity, or the threat of infidelity, can cause extreme jealousy in both males and females. If an individual is in a position of social power and feels that that standing is jeopardized by another, it often rears its ugly head. Sibling rivalry is often a result of jealousy, with siblings vying for parental attention or resources such as food. It also appears in friendships, when one feels that they are losing the attention of their friend to another.

Primary responses to jealousy are both emotional and physical. Sadness, anger, depression, hopelessness and feelings of unworthiness are just some of the emotions that result from it. Crying, increased pulse rate, sweating and shaking are some of its physical symptoms o. Feeling jealous is a natural reaction if one feels that their current state of well-being is threatened by another. What is perhaps more important is how one reacts to the negative emotions elicited by this emotional state. The primary effects of jealousy affect only the individual experiencing the emotion whereas the secondary effects (how that individual reacts) can influence the subject or subjects of jealousy.

There are myriad examples of jealousy being explored in literature throughout human history. Poor Io is a hapless victim of Hera’s jealously in Greek mythology, Cinderella is made to slave away for a jealous stepmother and step sisters in the famous fairy tale, and Shakespeare immortalized the destructive effects of the emotion in many of his plays, but perhaps the most poignant example was the cautionary account of Othello.

Protagonist Othello reacts to his jealousy with rage which results in the death of the woman he loves. He later finds that she was not unfaithful, as he had suspected. Long before and long after the time of Shakespeare many individuals have reacted to jealousy in such a way. In various studies, this strong emotion was found to have been one of the top three motives for non-accidental homicides where the motive is known (Harris, 2004, pg. 62). Although an individual’s reaction to jealousy is not always to a murderous extreme, it serves as an example of how strong an emotion can be. Other effects of jealousy include a decrease in one’s perceived self-worth, emotional instability, feelings of bitterness, the breaking of relationships, prolonged depression and extreme anxiety.

The history of jealousy may date back to the very beginnings of modern man. It is a primitive response to any potential threat to one’s overall emotional and physical well-being. Feelings of jealousy are unavoidable, but it is critical to examine one’s emotional response to any stimuli and react with a clear and conscious mind. Emotions are temporary, but actions are irrevocable.

Thanks for Reading! Literature Consulted:

Ben-Ze’ev, Aaron. (1990). Envy and jealousy. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 20(4), 487-516.

Harris, Christine. (2004). The evolution of jealousy. American Scientist, 92, 62-71.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Andy 

      6 months ago

      Thanks a lot for the information, it helps a lot

    • profile image

      tonde 

      7 months ago

      thank u for information

    • profile image

      peter 

      15 months ago

      This is the best I have read thank you for this wonderful info. I'm doing an essay on effects of jealousy, this will be super useful. thank you

    • Angel709 profile image

      Angel709 

      7 years ago from midwest

      quite informative.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)