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A systematic review of romantic jealousy in relationships


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Romantic jealousy is a complex emotion activated by a real or perceived threat to the relationship. Romantic jealousy is an important phenomenon in public health, as it brings consequences for the subject, the couple and the rival, even to the point of death. This theory-based study performed a systematic review of the research published in major international databases and platforms, as of December, 2016. The results of 230 studies that met the inclusion criteria were classified in pursuance of the variables associated with jealousy: a) personal variables (differences in sex, sexual orientation, hormones / use of contraceptives, self-esteem, attachment style and use of alcohol); b) interpersonal variables (romantic love, satisfaction and violence); c) sociocultural variables (transcultural comparisons, features of the rival and social networks). Future studies, with sufficient statistical robustness, should achieve a clinical formulation that indicates the relevance and predictive power of each variable.
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Copyright 2017 by Sociedad Chilena de Psicología Clínica
ISSN 0716-6184 (impresa) · ISSN 0718-4808 (en línea)
2017, Vol. 35, Nº 2, 203-212
A systematic review of romantic jealousy in relationships
Una revisión sistemática de los celos románticos en la relación de pareja
Nancy Consuelo Martínez-León
Universidad de Granada, España
Universidad El Bosque, Colombia
Juan José Peña
Universidad El Bosque, Colombia
Hernán Salazar
Universidad El Bosque, Colombia
Andrea García
Universidad El Bosque, Colombia
Juan Carlos Sierra
Centro de Investigación Mente, Cerebro y Comportamiento (CIMCYC), Universidad de Granada, España
Rec (27 de febrero de 2017) Acept (2 de mayo de 2017)
Romantic jealousy is a complex emotion activated by a real or perceived threat to the relationship. Romantic
jealousy is an important phenomenon in public health, as it brings consequences for the subject, the couple
and the rival, even to the point of death. This theory-based study performed a systematic review of the re-
search published in major international databases and platforms, as of December, 2016. The results of 230
studies that met the inclusion criteria were classied in pursuance of the variables associated with jealousy:
a) personal variables (differences in sex, sexual orientation, hormones / use of contraceptives, self-esteem,
attachment style and use of alcohol); b) interpersonal variables (romantic love, satisfaction and violence); c)
sociocultural variables (transcultural comparisons, features of the rival and social networks). Future studies,
with sufcient statistical robustness, should achieve a clinical formulation that indicates the relevance and
predictive power of each variable.
Keywords: Jealousy, indelity, relationship, systematic review, spousal violence.
Los celos románticos son una emoción compleja que se activa ante una amenaza real o percibida a la relación
sentimental. Constituyen un fenómeno relevante en salud pública por las consecuencias para sí mismo, la
pareja y el rival, llegando incluso hasta la muerte. El presente estudio teórico realiza una revisión sistemática
de investigaciones publicadas en las principales bases de datos y plataformas internacionales, hasta diciembre
del 2016. Los resultados de los 230 estudios que cumplían con los criterios de inclusión fueron clasicados
en función de las variables asociadas a los celos: a) personales (diferencias de sexo, orientación sexual, hor-
monas/uso de anticonceptivos, autoestima, estilo de apego y consumo de alcohol); b) interpersonales (amor
romántico, satisfacción y violencia); y c) socioculturales (comparaciones transculturales, características del
rival y redes sociales). Futuros estudios, con suciente robustez estadística, deberán lograr una formulación
clínica que indique la relevancia y el poder de predicción de cada variable.
Palabras clave: Celos, indelidad, pareja, revisión sistemática, violencia conyugal.
* Correspondence: should be addressed to Nancy Consuelo Martínez-León, Psychology Department, Universidad El Bosque. Carrera 9 No. 131 A – 02,
Bogotá (Colombia), E-mail:
Note: The authors would like to acknowledge the members of the research project, “Multidimensional analysis of the conduct of jealousy,” of the El
Bosque University and the Psychologist Natalia Caraballo, for their contributions.
Nancy Martínez-León, Juan Peña, Hernán Salazar, Andrea García y Juan Carlos Sierra
SyStematic review of romantic jealouSy
TERAPIA PSICOLÓGICA 2017, Vol. 35, Nº 2, 203-212
Nancy Martínez-León, Juan Peña, Hernán Salazar, Andrea García y Juan Carlos Sierra
Romantic jealousy is a complex affective emotion which
is akin to the very human nature in intimate relationships;
romantic jealousy is also indispensable for social order
(Clanton, 1996). Romantic jealousy is the subject of study
of human and social sciences (De Silva, 1997; Osamu,
2016) from different psychological and psychiatric currents
(Pines, 1992; Soyka, Naber, & Volcker, 1991).White (1981)
states that romantic jealousy can be dened “as a complex
set of thoughts, feelings and actions that follow a threat to
self-esteem and / or threaten the existence or quality of the
relationship. These threats are generated by the perception
of a real or potential attraction between the partner and
a (perhaps imaginary) rival” (p.24). Hart and Legerstee
(2013) state that jealousy is a state which – depending on
the context – can arouse emotions like sadness (loss), anger
(treason), or fear or anxiety (loneliness).
There are different types of romantic jealousy. Buunk
(1997), subdivides them into: a) reactive jealousy, caused by
intimate behavior of a partner with a third party; b) anxious
jealousy, focused on the possibility that the couple is sexually
or emotionally involved with someone else; c) preventive
jealousy, aimed at preventing intimate contact of the partner
with a third party upon slight indications of interest. Pfeiffer
and Wong (1989), while developing the Multidimensional
Jealousy Scale, argued that jealousy can be: a) emotional
jealousy – reaction to the perceived threat; b) cognitive
jealousy – concerns about the involvement of the partner in
indelity c) behavioral jealousy – monitoring behaviors. The
American Psychiatric Association (2013) DSM-5, classies
jealousy as follows: (a) obsessive jealousy, as a “specied
related disorder” of another compulsive-obsessive disorder;
and (b) jealousy-type within the delusional disorder.
Romantic jealousy can become pathological, with serious
consequences, when the ability to control it is lost. This may
lead even to the point of killing the partner (Mužinié et al.,
2003), as concluded by Harris (2003) in the meta-analysis
of the literature of jealousy-driven homicides (20 reports
from different countries) and the Chicago Homicide Dataset,
which reported 1,361 victims between the years 1965 and
2000, where sexual jealousy and sexual rivalry were present
and the offenders accused their victims of indelity. After
the murder, 275 perpetrators committed suicide (Block &
Block, 2012).
Research on the topic has a relatively short history. Its
beginnings date back to a symposium on the Convention
of the American Psychological Association in 1977, where
jealousy and envy were legitimized as a topic of scientic
research (Salovey, 1991). However, it was not until the
mid-90s that there began to emerge a large number of
scientic studies analyzing jealousy and its relationship with
different variables (Hart & Legerstee, 2013). For example,
the existence of sex differences based on the evolutionary
hypothesis, depending on the situation of indelity (emotio-
nal or sexual) that activates it (Bendixen, Kennair, & Buss,
2015); the inuence of sexual orientation (Alves, Pereira,
Tieme, & Otta, 2006; Dijkstra, Barelds, & Groothof, 2013);
the specic characteristics of the rival that causes jealousy
(Buunk & Dijkstra, 2015; Massar & Buunk, 2016); trans-
cultural comparisons (Croucher et al., 2012; Fernández,
Sierra, Zubeidat, & Vera-Villarroel, 2006; Zandbergen &
Brown, 2015); and even the relationship of jealousy with
hormonal changes in estrogen in women (Cobey et al., 2012).
Similarly, studies have been conducted on the way social
networks (Facebook and Snapchat) may continuously incite
this emotion (Halpem, Katz, & Carril, 2017).
It is also stated that romantic jealousy is associated with
more insecure and anxious attachments (Miller, Denes, Diaz,
& Buck, 2014), low self-esteem and insecurity (DiBello,
Rodriguez, Hadden, & Neighbors, 2015) and higher levels
of romantic love (Swami et al., 2012). The potentially in-
herent elevated levels of aggression have been associated
with alcohol problems (Rodriguez, DiBello, & Neighbors,
2015), which would explain the perpetration of frequent
episodes of intimate partner violence (Kar & O’Leary,
2013; Llor-Esteban, García-Jiménez, Ruiz-Hernández, &
Godoy-Fernández, 2016; López-Ossorio, González Álvarez,
Buquerín Pascual, García, & Buela-Casal, 2017) and end
up affecting satisfaction, quality and commitment in the
relationship (Dandurand & Lafontaine, 2014). The dating
violence start from adolescence (Cortés-Ayala et al., 2015;
Ureña, Romera, Casas, Viejo, & Ortega-Ruiz, 2015). In turn,
this has also become one of the most frequent reasons for
consultation in couples’ therapy.
In light of the importance of the subject from the scien-
tic, social and public-health related viewpoints, absence of
review articles – as far as is known – compiling studies of
the problem, and the multiplicity of associated variables, this
theory-based study undertook to synthesize the best scientic
evidence available through a systematic review of the main
factors involved in romantic jealousy in relationships. To this
end, items were organized and grouped into three types of
variables: (a) personal variables (differences in sex, sexual
orientation, hormones / use of contraceptives, self-esteem,
attachment style and use of alcohol); (b) interpersonal
variables (romantic love, satisfaction and violence); (c)
sociocultural variables (transcultural comparisons, features
SyStematic review of romantic jealouSy
TERAPIA PSICOLÓGICA 2017, Vol. 35, Nº 2, 203-212
of the rival and social networks). The review was conduc-
ted by explicitly and rigorously using methods to identify,
critically evaluate and synthesize the most relevant studies
(Perestelo-Pérez, 2013).
Literature review
A bibliography search was conducted on EBSCOEhost
and ProQuest platforms, as well as the following databases:
Scopus, Web of Science, PsycINFO, PsyNet, Redalyc and
Science Direct. The search terms used were: “jealousy”,
“jealous” and in Spanish: “celos”, “celotipia” – types of
jealousy. The search focused on the titles of scientic papers
published in English or Spanish as of December 2016, in
the areas of Health Sciences and Psychology.
Inclusion criteria
The papers selected were articles wherein romantic
jealousy is related with some other variable in adolescents
and / or adults.
The items are classied by variables and year of publica-
tion. Subsequently, the items that met the inclusion criteria
were identied. Whenever difculties were encountered
as to compliance with the criteria, the articles were read
by two reviewers and selected or ruled out by consensus.
Finally, the information was recorded in a bibliographic
record database.
Coding the papers
The entirety of the text of the articles selected was
reviewed, and the following information was extracted:
(a) author/s and year of publication; (b) methodology,
identifying the study design as rated by Montero and León
(2007); (c) sample – recording the number of participants,
gender, sexual orientation and sample type; (d) method for
evaluating romantic jealousy; (e) main results obtained.
Lastly, the papers were classied in the organization va-
riables proposed.
Two hundred and thirty scientic articles published
between 1978 and December 2016 were reviewed. Figure
1 illustrates the process of selecting the articles. The
vast majority of articles discussed three to ve variables
The entirety of the text of the articles selected was reviewed, and the following information was
extracted: a) author/s and year of publication; b) methodology, identifying the study design as rated by
Montero and León (2007); c) sample recording the number of participants, gender, sexual orientation
and sample type; d) method for evaluating romantic jealousy; e) main results obtained. Lastly, the
papers were classified in the organization variables proposed.
230 scientific articles published between 1978 and December 2016 were reviewed. Figure 1 illustrates
the process of selecting the articles. The vast majority of articles discussed three to five variables
Figure 1. Flowchart of information
through the different stages of the
systematic review-
The authors with the highest
production were A.P. Buunk, B.P. Buunk,
P. Dijkstra, R.B. Hupka, J. Canto and
C.R. Harris. The methodology used in
the studies compiled was ex post facto
Records or citations
identified in the search
Double records deleted
Total number of articles
ruled out on account of
noncompliance with
Total number of articles
selected to decide on
eligibility thereof
Total number of papers
included in the systematic
review synthesis
References excluded for
no having access to full
Figure 1. Flowchart of information through the different stages
of the systematic review-
The authors with the highest production were A.P.
Buunk, P. Dijkstra, R.B. Hupka, J. Canto and C.R. Harris.
The methodology used in the studies compiled was ex post
facto type (71.7%), quasi-experimental (21.7%) and experi-
mental (6.5%). Over half of the studies used college student
samples (60%), followed by general population (27%) and
mixed samples of students and general population (10.4%).
The study conducted by Frederick and Fales (2016) used
the largest and most diverse sample (63,894 people). The
majority of studies measured samples of both sexes (90.4%).
Finally, the research included heterosexual participants
(39.1%), only homosexuals (1.3%) and participants from
different orientations (10.9%). 48.7% of the studies had no
reports vis-à-vis this variable.
Around 40 different instruments have been used in
measuring jealousy. Items derived from scales, auto stan-
dardized reports and questionnaires developed ad hoc. The
most widely used instruments have been the forced choice
TERAPIA PSICOLÓGICA 2017, Vol. 35, Nº 2, 203-212
Nancy Martínez-León, Juan Peña, Hernán Salazar, Andrea García y Juan Carlos Sierra
measures based on the Indelity Dilemmas (Buss, Larsen,
& Semmelroth, 1992; Buss et al., 1999), which were used
in 62 studies (24.6%); the Multidimensional Jealousy Scale
(Pfeiffer & Wong, 1989) in 21 (8.3%); the Interpersonal
Jealousy Scale (Mathes & Severa, 1981) used in 13 studies
(5.2%); the Jealousy Scale (Buunk, 1997) used in ten studies
(4%) and the Jealousy Evoking Scenario (Dijkstra & Buunk,
2002) used in seven studies (2.8%) and 59 studies used ad
hoc questionnaires (23.4%). The main results of each of the
variables are integrated below.
Personal variables
One of the most controversial and most widely researched
variables in romantic jealousy is sex – namely, the difference
between men and women in response to different types of
indelity (emotional or sexual indelity), as measured in
scenarios of forced choice and / or continuous measurements
of the physiological responses. The evolutionary hypothesis
states that men may experience more jealousy in the event
of indelity of a sexual nature, and women may do so with
emotional indelity (Bendixen et al., 2015; Buss et al., 1992).
These differences can be moderated mainly by household
size, income and roles (Zengel et al., 2013), processing
signals of emotional and sexual indelity (Schützwohl,
2005), previous experience of indelity (Tagler, 2010) and
sexual orientation. For example, responses both in homo-
sexual men and women – as compared with heterosexuals
of the same sex – were less intense in terms of jealousy
than in scenarios that describe their partner having sex with
another person (Dijkstra et al., 2013). Similarly, a higher
percentage of bisexual men dating women reported being
vexed more by sexual indelity than bisexual men dating
men and bisexual women (Scherer, Akers, & Kolbe, 2013).
However, the evolutionary theory has been debated
by the type of measurement used (forced choice) and the
hypothetical scenario of possible indelity, as the latter may
be a measurement item that may produce errors (DeSteno,
Bartlett, Braverman, & Salovey, 2002). Studies that do not
use this type of measurement found that men and women
reported high levels of jealousy before sexual indelity
(Green & Sabini, 2006; Harris, 2000).
Given the multiplicity of studies about this variable, there
have been three meta-analyses. In the rst meta-analysis,
Harris (2003) presents 32 items and concludes – through the
study of ve different lines of research – that there is lack
of evidence on sex differences, as there is great variability
amongst men in various samples and only a minority of men
reported that sexual indelity could be worse than emotional
indelity. Harris suggests that this inconsistency in results
can be better explained from a social-cognitive perspective.
The second meta-analysis, presented by Carpenter (2012)
with 54 articles, states that data was not consistent with the
evolutionary hypothesis, as the tendency of men to respond
in this way was given only in samples of American students,
whilst the other data supports the social-cognitive theory.
However, the third meta-analysis – made by Sagarin et al.
(2012) with 40 research papers on the subject – says that
sex differences in jealousy is not a forced choice item; these
emerge using continuous measurements and are not limited
to responses to a hypothetical indelity (Edlund, Heider,
Sherer, Farc, & Sagarin, 2006).
Moreover, it has been reported that – at the biological
level – the phases of the menstrual cycle are associated
with high levels of jealousy, both in single women and
women with a partner (Cobey et al., 2012). However, this
differs when using contraceptive hormones during the in-
fertile cycle; jealousy levels in women with a partner were
signicantly higher (Cobey, Roberts, & Buunk, 2013). A
signicant negative association was also found between the
2D:4D ratio (prenatal testosterone) and emotional intensity
vis-à-vis sexual indelity (Fussell, Rowe, & Park, 2011).
Another individual variable associated with romantic
jealousy is self-esteem. Self-evaluation and self-awareness
are vital in social relationships, and may be mediated by
the opinion others hold about one (Leary, Tambor, Terdal,
& Downs, 1995). It is assumed that individuals with low
self-esteem are more vulnerable to the experience of jealousy
(Mathes, 1992). Initially, some studies found no correlation
between self-esteem and romantic jealousy (Buunk, 1981;
White, 1981). Later on, a negative correlation was found
(Buunk, 1982; Khanchandani & Durham, 2009; Mcintosh,
1989; Salovey & Rodin, 1991). Most research on the subject
has been conducted with explicit (controlled, conscious)
measures of self-esteem, without taking into account the
recent development of measures of implicit aspects (e.g.
automatic or unconscious aspects) of self-esteem (DeSteno,
Valdesolo, & Bartlett, 2006). When the two measures were
used, it was found that men with high levels of jealousy had
explicit low self-esteem, unlike women who had high levels
of implicit self-esteem (Stieger, Preyss, & Voracek, 2012).
As for attachment style, it is recognized that the rst
links a person establishes in their life can be determina-
tive of their relationships in adulthood (Bartholomew &
Horowitz, 1991). Sharpsteen and Kirkpatrick (1997) and
Retana and Sanchez (2008) argue that people with different
attachment styles have qualitatively different experiences
of romantic jealousy. Burchell and Ward (2011) found that
SyStematic review of romantic jealouSy
TERAPIA PSICOLÓGICA 2017, Vol. 35, Nº 2, 203-212
avoidant attachment type, along with having been victims
of sexual indelity, are signicant predictors for men to
experience pathological jealousy. Buunk (1997) found – in
three measures of jealousy – that those who had anxious-
ambivalent attachment style were more jealous than those
with an avoidant style. Also Rodriguez, DiBello, Overup
and Neighbors (2015) concluded that anxious attachment
moderates the association between trust and jealousy, which
in turn affects satisfaction at the couple level (Dandurand
& Lafontaine, 2014). In addition, women who grew up
without the presence of their father reported more anxious
and preventive jealousy (Brummen-Girigori, Buunk,
Dijkstra, & Girigori, 2016); and it is stated that jealousy
may be mediated by differential affection – comparison
with a sibling – during childhood (Rauer & Volling, 2007)
and the last children were more jealous than the rstborn
(Buunk, 1997).
Interpersonal variables: Relationship
Jealousy not only affects the person who feels and
expresses it, but also the partner and their emotional re-
lationship. One of the variables researched was romantic
love – understood as afliative necessity and dependence,
willingness to help and exclusivity and absorption (Rubin,
1970), which have been positively correlated with romantic
jealousy (Orosz, Zoltán, Kiss, Farkas, & Roland-Lévy, 2015;
White, 1984). Retana and Sanchez (2008) found – more in
women than in men – a relationship between addictive love
and jealousy. Sanchez (2009) indicated that people in the
infatuation (obsessive love) stage, followed by those in the
stage of desperate love (harassment and persistent pursuit
of interaction) are those who experience more jealousy.
Swami et al. (2012) reported that the bias present in “blind
love” (positive perception of physical attractiveness of the
partner) in romantic love positively predicts the experience
of anxious jealousy.
With regard to satisfaction and quality in the relationship,
Mathes, Roter and Joerger (1982) reported that jealousy is
negatively associated with marital happiness and positively
associated with the frequency of altercations in the couple.
High scores of jealousy, especially cognitive jealousy
(Elphinston & Noller, 2011) indicated minor adjustment,
satisfaction and perception of quality in the relationship
(Barelds & Barelds-Dijkstra, 2007; DiBello et al., 2015;
Khanchandani & Durham, 2009). Mathes (1986) made
two applications of the Interpersonal Jealousy Scale to the
same sample of people with a period of seven years, and
indicated that the effects of jealousy could be positive, in
that couples were married and their love continued.
Finally, there is strong evidence in the association bet-
ween (physical and verbal) violence and jealousy (Kar &
O’Leary, 2013). The latter are identied as two of the most
important mediators to increase the presence of morbid /
delusional jealousy; those suffering from this condition
reportedly have a greater number of attempted murders
against the partner (Easton & Shackelford, 2009) and alcohol
problems (Rodriguez et al., 2015; Foran & O’Leary, 2008).
DiBello, Neighbors, Rodriguez and Lindgren (2014) found
that drinking was a coping strategy and a mediator between
the most negative aspects of jealousy (cognitive type). Other
potentially moderating factors are the cultural construction
made of possessiveness, acceptance of violence in situations
like indelity and anger (Adams & Williams, 2014; Belus
et al., 2014); stress, lifestyle and social support, along with
beliefs of male domination (Wang, Parish, Laumann, & Luo,
2009). Attachment style and the level of jealousy were also
associated with cyberstalking or harassment via Internet
(Strawhun, Adams, & Huss, 2013). Increased frequency of
violence is indicated in distanced marriages and with young
women (Stieglitz, Gurven, Kaplan, & Winking, 2012).
Sociocultural variables
The sociocultural environment is considered a mediator
of this complex interpersonal emotion, as beliefs and models
can be congured, and communication networks can be esta-
blished to favor or not the appearance of romantic jealousy.
In a study conducted in three countries, Hupka and Zaleski
(1990) argue that the problems concerning situations of
jealousy and envy are similar across industrialized countries,
but the particular events that cause them differ. Buunk and
Hupka (1987) studied populations of seven countries, and
found that for almost all the subjects – kissing, irting and
getting involved sexually evoke a jealous response, whereas
dancing, hugging and having sexual fantasies evoked no
feelings of jealousy. Buunk, Angleitner, Oubaid and Buss
(1996) argue that sex differences are consistent in three
countries. However, Zandbergen and Brown (2015) indicate
that culture in sexual indelity could be a better predictor of
jealousy than would gender. For example, Geary, Rumsey,
Bow-Thomas and Hoard (1995) reported that American
men expressed more anxiety regarding sexual indelity as
compared to their counterparts from China. Similar results
were obtained in the comparison of Cuban men vis-à-vis
Spanish men (Canto, Moscato, & Moreno-Jimenez, 2010).
TERAPIA PSICOLÓGICA 2017, Vol. 35, Nº 2, 203-212
Nancy Martínez-León, Juan Peña, Hernán Salazar, Andrea García y Juan Carlos Sierra
Similarly, a study was conducted on the type of rival that
evokes jealousy, through the inventory of 56 characteris-
tics grouped into ve factors: Social Dominance, Physical
Attractiveness, Physical Dominance, Seductive Behavior
and Social Status (Dijkstra & Buunk, 2002). Particularly,
physical dominion in both sexes (body and face attractive,
youth, height) and seductive voice (Buunk, Park, Zurriaga,
Klavina, & Massar, 2008; Buunk & Dijkstra, 2015; O’Connor
& Feinberg, 2012) can be threatening. Women are also
affected by the kindness and understanding of the female
rival (Ottesen, Nordeide, Andreaseen, Stronen, & Pallesen,
2011). In cross-cultural comparisons, Buunk and Dijkstra
(2015) report that no differences were found between Iraqi
men and women and those from Kurdistan, whilst differences
were found in the study with populations from Spain and
Argentina (Buunk, Castro, Zurriaga, & González, 2011) and
Kurdistan-Iraqi people responded with much more jealousy
to a variety of features of the rival than did the subjects in
the study with Dutch population.
Finally, research is being conducted on the way the use
of social networks like Facebook is related to jealousy, in
light of the ambiguous information exposed in this realm,
which feeds back images of real or imaginary situations
(Muise, Christodes, & Desmarais, 2009). In this vein, it
was found that women are more likely to feel jealous as
compared to men (McAndrew & Shah, 2013). Likewise,
access to (private or public) messages on Facebook can
encourage jealousy, thereby affecting the emotional state,
the perceived threat and the behavior of the person (Cohen,
Browan, & Borchert, 2014). In addition, the intrusion on
Facebook is related to satisfaction with the partner, through
cognitive jealousy and monitoring behaviors (Elphinston &
Noller, 2011). It was found that women are more involved in
these activities when they feel jealous (Muise, Christodes,
& Desmarais, 2014). However, it was found that Snapchat
can produce more jealousy than Facebook as compared to
other social networks, thereby paving the pathway to other
forms of interactions and data collection (Utz, Muscanell,
& Khalid, 2015).
This study provides the rst systematic review on romantic
jealousy and potentially associated personal, interpersonal
and sociocultural variables. Thus, we have collected and
provided a reliable and accessible synthesis of the scientic
papers published between 1978 and 2016.
The studies analyzed are mostly ex post facto, and
show little diversity as to the origin of the sample – mostly
university students. Therefore, it would be appropriate
to consider more representative samples of communities
(Frederick & Fales, 2016), and to evaluate other moderating
variables such as marital status (Gatzeva & Paik, 2011), age
(Dijkstra, Barelds, & Groothof, 2010), existence of children
or previous experience of indelity (Zengel et al., 2013). It
is advisable to replicate experimental design studies con-
ducted with variables such as self-esteem (DeSteno et al.,
2006), the status of the rival (Massar & Buunk, 2016) and
emoticons on Facebook (Hudson et al., 2015), inter alia.
Moreover, 41% of the studies did not report the participants’
sexual orientation, and this may be an important mediating
variable (Dijkstra et al., 2013).
It is emphasized that there is a large number of instru-
ments (about 40) which emphasize the evaluation of different
components of the construct. Most have adequate levels of
validity and reliability, albeit only a few feature conrma-
tory factor analysis in different samples (Martínez-León,
Mathes, Avendaño, Peña, & Sierra, in press). We suggest
that the measurement include the results of research on
stimuli that may evoke jealousy (Dijkstra et al., 2010), as
well as on social situations that may incite more jealousy
than others, such as “afternoon coffee vs. dinner invitation”
(Kevin, Knifn, & Wansink, 2012), seles (Halpem et al.,
2017), features of the rival (Buunk et al., 2011) and social
media monitoring (Dainton & Stokes, 2015). Evaluation
of romantic jealousy should be multimodal, integrating the
results of scales, records, interviews with the partner, and
nonverbal measures of emotional stress markers (DeSteno
et al., 2006).
The review conrms that jealousy is not only affected
by personal and interpersonal factors, but by more complex
variables linked to the sociocultural environment. One of
the personal variables – difference of sexes – in light of a
situation of sexual or emotional indelity, has for decades
been the most controversial and studied variable. In this
regard, each of the perspectives – both the evolutionary
theory (Buss et al., 1992) and the cognitive social theory
(Harris, 2003) – have received sufcient empirical support.
Although the theory of “dual perspective” emerges in this
divergence (DeSteno & Salovey, 1996), it is important to
include both methodologies –forced choice and continuous
measures (Bendixen et al., 2015; Sagarin et al., 2012) – and
to extend the studies to different cultures (Carpenter, 2012).
In this vein, the importance of assessing biological
aspects is also evident, as is the case of the inuence of the
use of contraceptive pills (Cobey et al., 2013), the phase of
SyStematic review of romantic jealouSy
TERAPIA PSICOLÓGICA 2017, Vol. 35, Nº 2, 203-212
the menstrual cycle (Cobey et al., 2012) and the 2:D 4:D
ratio, prenatal exposure to testosterone (Bendixen et al.,
2015.) in self-reporting jealousy. Similarly, prevalence of
morbid jealousy was found in patients with Parkinson under
dopaminergic therapy (Poletti et al., 2012) and in patients
with brain damage (Kuruppuarachchi & Seneviratne, 2011).
On the other hand – according to the results – self-esteem
can be one of the major mediators of the jealousy response
(DeSteno et al., 2006), as well as attachment, where there is
consensus in that an anxious, fearful and insecure attachment
may partly explain romantic jealousy (Belus et al., 2014).
However, the results are inconclusive in other variables
such as infatuation.
Romantic jealousy is an emotion awakened by a threat
and generates a behavior of opposition to the threat, which
is associated negatively to satisfaction in the relationship
(Dandurand & Lafontaine, 2014) depending on the type of
jealousy (morbid), experiences of past indelity (Stieglitz,
Gurven, Kaplan, & Winking, 2012) alcohol use (Dibello
et al., 2014) and the context and response of the partner. In
addition, romantic jealousy can lead to violence and fatal
consequences (Harris, 2003). However, there are few stu-
dies on the response of the partner upon the manifestation
of jealousy. It is known that the more amount of perceived
affection in the relationship, the less jealous response
(Goodboy, Horan, & Booth-Buttereld, 2012). It would
be interesting to include research conducted in the eld of
communications on the expression of jealousy towards the
partner and the experience of uncertainty (Bevan, 2009;
Pytlak, Zerega, & Houser, 2015) as well as how the part-
ner may be reinforcing the response of jealousy with their
attention and approval.
The features of the rival that evoke this emotion are
increasingly clearer, and it has been found at the transcul-
tural level that there are similar characteristics of the rival
causing jealousy, albeit more comparisons are to be made
(Buunk & Dijkstra, 2015). In addition, studies should be
conducted on homosexual population (Dijkstra & Buunk,
2002; Massar & Buunk, 2010). Another key element is
the analysis of the impact generated by social networks on
romantic jealousy, as they constantly feed the interperso-
nal relationships of millions of people (Dainton & Stokes,
2015). Facebook is the network which has the most studies
in this regard (Cohen et al., 2014; Elphinston & Noller,
2011), followed by Snapchat (Utz et al., 2015). However
further studies with WhatsApp and Instagram – inter alia
– are needed, as excess information – both registered and
reported by others – changes the way we interact and our
emotions in front of others.
In sum, this systematic review evinces that jealousy is a
complex phenomenon which can be affected by many factors.
Future studies with sufcient statistical robustness should
achieve a clinical formulation indicating the relevance and
predictive power of each of these factors, in order to shed
light on issues pertaining to psychopathology and underlying
hypotheses, in order to propose effective prevention dating
violence and intervention strategies.
Finally, it should be noted that this study had limitations
related to search criteria (the terms were limited to article
titles) and only included scientic empirical articles publis-
hed in English or Spanish on the topic of romantic jealousy.
Attached in Teps website ( is the list of 230
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... Los celos son comunes entre los seres humanos (Mogilski et al., 2019), presentan un cuadro clínico difícil de evaluar (Avendaño y Betancort, 2021) y pueden desarrollar características patológicas (Ferreira et al., 2016;González-Ortega et al., 2008;Marazziti et al., 2003;Martínez-León et al., 2013). Se consideran una experiencia universal potencialmente violenta (Campos et al., 2010;Elphinston et al., 2011), con consecuencias negativas tanto para la persona como para la pareja, llegando incluso a la muerte (Martínez-León et al., 2017). Los celos como emoción compleja (Ben-Ze'ev, 2013) se han asociado con la ira, la tristeza, la depresión (Martínez-León et al., 2013), el miedo o la ansiedad (Harris y Darby, 2013), la desconfianza y la infidelidad (Avendaño y Betancort, 2021). ...
... Un estudio realizado en Colombia, México y Estados Unidos halló diferencias significativas en el nivel de celos que existían entre estos tres países. Las divergencias entre Colombia y México fueron menos marcadas, y no se encontraron diferencias por género (Martínez-León et al., 2017). La cultura determina qué escenario es amenazador, cuándo es un peligro y en qué condiciones se manifiestan los celos (Hupka, 1981). ...
... A partir de las consideraciones anteriores, la elaboración del CECLA se basó en los planteamientos teóricos de Echeburúa y Fernández-Montalvo (2001) y en los elementos obtenidos de las entrevistas realizadas para la muestra clínica que sirvieron como marco teórico-empírico para elaborar los ítems. En 230 estudios publicados sobre celos desde 1978 hasta 2016, se encontraron alrededor de 40 instrumentos para evaluarlos, algunos de los cuales no presentan análisis psicométricos y solo unos pocos incluyen un análisis factorial confirmatorio en diferentes muestras (Martínez-León et al., 2017), lo que resulta insuficiente, puesto que la evidencia de validez basada en la estructura interna (dimensionalidad, invarianza y fiabilidad) es fundamental para realizar interpretaciones sustantivas (American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association y National Council on Measurement in Education, 1999; Rios y Wells, 2014). ...
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Los celos patológicos son una emoción compleja y han sido considerados una experiencia universal potencialmente violenta. Traen consigo consecuencias negativas para la persona, la pareja o el rival, incluso hasta la muerte. Se asocian a la ira, tristeza, depresión, ansiedad, desconfianza e infidelidad. Sin embargo, en revisiones recientes, no han sido desarrollados suficientes instrumentos de medida de los celos patológicos que permitan el desarrollo de nueva investigación transcultural. El objetivo de la investigación fue recolectar evidencia de validez de la estructura interna tanto en términos de dimensionalidad y concurrencia, como de invarianza entre México (n=257, 70.4% mujeres) y Colombia (n=244, 59.4% mujeres), y fiabilidad de la escala CECLA. El Análisis Factorial Confirmatorio corroboró la estructura interna de los tres factores originales (celos pasionales, obsesivos y delirantes), incluida evidencia de favorable invarianza entre las muestras mexicana y colombiana. Además, se obtuvo evidencia de validez convergente, y se lograron adecuados índices de consistencia interna. Los resultados logrados señalaron que el CECLA es un instrumento útil y recomendable para evaluar celos patológicos en la población mexicana.
... Menurut pandangan saya pribadi rasa cemburu biasanya datang ketika saya merasa kurang percaya diri dan timbul pikiran yang negatif dan rasa kecurigaan yang besar terhadap pasangan saya. Pada dasarnya rasa cemburu yang terkadang hadir dalam hubungan percintaan dapat disebabkan oleh kurangnya rasa percaya diri, perasaaan posesif terhadap seseorang, rasa takut ditinggalkan dan Neurotisme yang tinggi sehingga lebih mudah berea ksi negatif ketika menghadapi sesuatu (Afifah, 2020) ...
... Scholars argue that there are di erent types of variables associated with jealousy. In their systematic review, Martínez-León et al. (2017) distinguish personal, interpersonal, and sociocultural variables. Despite the fact that there are ideas about the in uence of cultural factors, physiological and hormonal processes, and a real experience of in delity, a large body of research is associated precisely with personality traits, since they are clearly expressed in the processes of interpersonal interaction. ...
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Background Romantic attachment is reflected in various aspects of dyadic interaction in a couple, since it is a self-reinforcing system of cognitive, emotional and behavioral patterns. Romantic jealousy was shown to be associated with dimensions of attachment insecurity in various studies worldwide. Objectives To identify differences in expressions of romantic jealousy based on romantic attachment style. To determine the influence of attachment-related anxiety and attachment-related avoidance on cognitive, emotional, and behavioral jealousy. Design The sample comprised 171 heterosexual individuals. The “Experiences in Close Relationships — Revised” questionnaire (ECR-R; Fraley, Waller, & Brennan, 2000; adapted for Russian by Chursina, 2022) and “Multidimensional Jealousy Scale” (MJS; Pfeiffer, & Wong, 1989) were used. Results A number of significant differences were identified between insecure and secure attachment styles. Avoidant attachment is characterized by cognitive jealousy, ambivalent attachment is characterized by cognitive and behavioral jealousy, while dismissing attachment showed no significant differences in the manifestations of jealousy in comparison with secure attachment style. Emotional jealousy is equally characteristic of all types. The primacy of romantic attachment in relation to cognitive and behavioral jealousy was also proved. Conclusion The experience of jealousy differs among romantic attachment styles. Attachment-related anxiety is a predictor of intrusive thoughts and behavioral manifestations of jealousy, while attachment-related avoidance is less, the greater the manifestation of jealousy behaviors.
... Romantic jealousy, which refers to the jealousy experienced in response to real or perceived threats to an intimate relationship, is an unpleasant emotion that people do not wish to experience (DeSteno et al., 2002;Buss, 2000). It is also associated with various negative consequences, including relationship dissolution (Apostolou & Wang, 2021), divorce (Betzig, 1989), depression, and suicide attempts (Carson & Cupach, 2000), as well as domestic violence (Buss, 2000; for a comprehensive review of jealousy literature, refer to Martínez-León et al., 2017). It has been argued that these adverse outcomes are outweighed by jealousy's protective effect against infidelity (Buss, 2000). ...
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Romantic jealousy can lead to several negative outcomes, such as tensions between intimate partners, domestic violence, and even homicide. On the other hand, it has been hypothesized that this mechanism has a protective effect against infidelity. In the current research, we aimed to examine five predictions derived from this hypothesis. Specifically, we conducted a study with a sample of N = 333 Greek-speaking participants who were in an intimate relationship. Our findings revealed that intimate partners’ jealousy was predicted by discrepancies in mate value, attitudes toward cheating, and interactions with individuals of the opposite sex. Notably, the latter effect was observed exclusively among male participants. Furthermore, we found that an intimate partner exhibiting higher romantic jealousy was associated with reduced freedom to flirt with others. This effect was both direct and indirect, mediated by an increased fear of their partner’s reactions.
... Existe un gran número de instrumentos para medir los celos con distinta extensión y alcances en sus formatos: desde indicadores en escalas más amplias sobre la relación de pareja y cuestionarios desarrollados ad hoc, hasta escalas psicométricas multidimensionales (Martínez-León, Peña, Salazar, García, & Sierra, 2017). Algunas de las escalas para medir celos más conocidas son: ...
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El propósito de este trabajo fue desarrollar y validar psicométricamente una escala para medir celos románticos en Facebook y WhatsApp, asimismo se buscó evidencia de que los reactivos no tuvieran un funcionamiento diferencial por sexo mediante análisis de invarianza factorial. Se trabajó con dos grupos de participantes de la Ciudad de México, 300 para un análisis factorial exploratorio y 300 para un análisis factorial confirmatorio y prueba de invarianza. Se encontró una estructura con 24 reactivos, confiabilidad (α = .96) correcto ajuste [χ2 (246) = 433.99, p <.01; CF1 = .99; RMSEA = .05] e invarianza factorial por sexo, por lo que se concluye que la escala es confiable y válida y permite comparación por sexo sin sesgos de medición.
The interface of sexual behavior and evolutionary psychology is a rapidly growing domain, rich in psychological theories and data as well as controversies and applications. With nearly eighty chapters by leading researchers from around the world, and combining theoretical and empirical perspectives, The Cambridge Handbook of Evolutionary Perspectives on Sexual Psychology is the most comprehensive and up-to-date reference work in the field. Providing a broad yet in-depth overview of the various evolutionary principles that influence all types of sexual behaviors, the handbook takes an inclusive approach that draws on a number of disciplines and covers nonhuman and human psychology. It is an essential resource for both established researchers and students in psychology, biology, anthropology, medicine, and criminology, among other fields. Volume 3: Female Sexual Adaptations addresses theory and research focused on sexual adaptations in human females.
Jealousy is an integral part of romantic relationships. However, their constructiveness or, on the contrary, their destructive effect on relationships depends to a significant extent on the reaction. The choice of communication tactics is determined in a certain way by the style of attachment to a romantic partner. In Ukraine, this problem is weakly studied but relevant as a theoretical and practical question considering the possibility of appropriate educational work implementation and prevention of destructive conflicts among young couples. The purpose of the study is to systematize information about jealousy and determine the strength and nature of the connection between attachment styles and communicative responses among young people's romantic relationships. In the study we`ve used the Ukrainian adaptation of «The Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised (ECR-R)» technique by Fraley, Waller & Brennan (2000) and a questionnaire based on the selection of 11 communicative reactions of Guerrero; descriptive statistics, correlation, and regression analysis were used for statistical analysis; open answers of 115 people aged 17 to 26 were collected for qualitative analysis. Weak linear relationships were found between attachment style scales and some communicative responses. Securely attached individuals chose the «Integrative Communication» tactic, anxious-preoccupied people chose «Surveillance Behavior», individuals with a dismissive-avoidant style chose «Avoidance/Denial», and those with a fearful-avoidant style chose «Manipulation Attempts». Such factors as the existance of a romantic relationship and gender influenced the choice of «Distributive Communication», «Rival Contact», and «Avoidance/Denial» strategies. The article continued Guerrero's research and expanded the understanding of the connection between communication tactics and attachment styles in romantic relationships. The results of the study are important and valuable, since misunderstanding of each other's behavior and reacting sharply to situations that cause jealousy are one of the most common psychological factors of conflict in a couple. It can help to understand your partner better, predict his or her reaction and prevent divorce.
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The article is devoted to highlighting the results of an empirical study of the features of the connection between the perception of advertising of entertainment-oriented applications and the motives of user's consumer behavior (using the example of the youth target audience). An analysis of the structure of consumer behavior motives for entertainmentoriented mobile applications was carried out. The authors established that the structure of motives of consumer behavior, which are actualized in users in the process of perceiving advertisements of entertainment-oriented applications (“Artstory”, “Preview”, “Lift”, “Unfold”, “Picsart”), consists of two factors. The relationship between the factors of perception of advertising images of mobile applications and the factors in the structure of motives of consumer behavior of users was established (for the application “Artstory” between the factor “Actualization of consumer activity” and the factors “ Actualization of creativity and positive mood” and “Exclusivity” in the structure of consumer motives; for the “Preview” application between the factor “Interest and attractiveness” in the structure of perception of the advertising image and the factor “Actualization of creativity and self-expression” in the structure of consumer motives; for the “Lift” application between the factor “Interest” in the structure of perception of the advertising image and the factors “Drive and creativity” and “Confidence in the exclusivity of the choice” in the structure of consumer motives; for the application “Unfold” between the factor “Interest” in the structure of perception of the advertising image and the factors “Confidence in the exclusivity of the choice and positive mood” and “Actualization of creative self-expression” in the structure of consumer motives; for the “Picsart” application by the factor “Attractiveness and interest” in the structure of perception of advertising image and by the factor “Satisfaction from creativity and novelty” in the structure of consumer motives). Prospects for further research have been identified, which consist in studying the relationship between the perception of educational mobile application advertising and the motives of users' consumer behavior.
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Desde su nacimiento, el ser humano desarrolla un primer vínculo que a través del tiempo se va traduciendo en un vínculo romántico (p.e. Bowlby, 1969,1973; Shaver y Hazan, 1988). Desafortunadamente, este apego no siempre es seguro y tranquilo en términos del acceso que se tiene de la fuente de amor, por lo que en ocasiones surge la inseguridad, la duda y el miedo de perder al ser amado y con ello una preocupación obsesiva por ésta. Por tal motivo, el objetivo de este estudio fue explorar las relaciones entre los estilos de apego, los celos y el amor adictivo en hombres y mujeres adultos residentes de la ciudad de México. Los resultados muestran relaciones positivas entre el amor adictivo y el apego preocupado y rechazante.
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Romantic jealousy is one of the most complex emotions people experience in their relationships; people may reach high levels of violence as a result of pathological jealousy. This paper sought to adapt to Spanish language use and examine the psychometric properties of the Interpersonal Jealousy Scale (IJS). This scale evaluates the negative emotion resulting from actual or threatened loss of a loved one to a rival. We used a Colombian sample of 603 Colombian adults (59,03% women). Factor models were tested by Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA), in order to confirm the stability of the internal structure of the scale. The CFA supported the robustness of a one-dimensional structure with 18 items. Good internal consistency and evidence of external validity were found, as well as adequate adjustment parameters under the item response theory. In the analysis of the differential functioning of the items by sex, five items measured the different latent trait in men and women. The data indicate that the revised Spanish version of the IJS is a useful instrument to assess romantic jealousy.
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Two studies are presented that challenge the evidentiary basis for the existence of evolved sex differences in jealousy. In opposition to the evolutionary view. Study 1 demonstrated that a sex difference in jealousy resulting from sexual versus emotional infidelity is observed only when judgments are recorded using a forced-choice response format. On all other measures, no sex differences were found; both men and women reported greater jealousy in response to sexual infidelity. A second study revealed that the sex difference on the forced-choice measure disappeared under conditions of cognitive constraint. These findings suggest that the sex difference used to support the evolutionary view of jealousy (e.g., D. M. Buss, R. Larsen, D. Westen, & J. Semmelroth, 1992; D. M. Buss et al., 1999) likely represents a measurement artifact resulting from a format-induced effortful decision strategy and not an automatic, sex-specific response shaped by evolution.
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Background/Objective: Some professionals, such as police officers, are required to prevent violent behavior, such as intimate partner violence (IPV). For this task they use actuarial tools designed to estimate the risk of occurrence of further violence after a previous complaint (police recidivism), taking into account risk and protective indicators which they can observe, in spite of they are not behavioral assessment experts. Method: To try to refine the police risk assessments carried out in Spain since 2007 and to improve the two tools available on the Spanish VioGén System, Police Risk Assessment and Risk Evolution (VPR3.1 and VPER3.0), this paper, using an epidemiological design, in a sample of 6,613 new cases of IPV of Spain, studies empirical relationships among 65 indicators (56 risk and 9 protection) and IPV police recidivism up to six months. Results: It resulted in a recidivism rate of 7.4%, finding statistically significant associations of 46 indicators. Conclusions: Empirical evidence about static indicators and new relevant dynamic indicators in the victims’ police protection management is presented. Practical implications for future police risk assessments are discussed.
Drawing on social-psychology and communication theories, we advance a theoretical model to explain the negative effects of selfies on romantic relationships. We suggest that this individualistic use of social media is related to selfie related conflicts between partners through two processes: (1) jealousy, stemming from excessive individual photo-sharing or comments about those pictures, and (2) that, by sharing flattering images of oneself, an online ideal persona is created in the picture-taker’s mind that diverges from real-life. These conflicts in turn reduce perceived quality of the romantic relationships. To test the model we conducted a two-wave, representative panel survey, separated by one year. Results support a partial mediation model between taking selfies and lower perception of relationship quality, suggesting that both mediators, jealousy and the online ideal persona, have a negative effect on romantic relationship over time.
This study evaluates sex differences in response to sexual and emotional infidelity in two Spanish-speaking samples. An extension of previous findings with Anglo, European, and Asian students leads to the prediction that men report being more distressed by sexual than by emotional infidelity, and women report the reverse. Five hundred and eleven students from Spain and Chile respond to a questionnaire consisting of forced-choice-scenarios. Significant sex differences in jealousy as a function of type of infidelity emerges and this is consistent with previous research on jealousy.
The goal of the present study was to examine whether women who were abandoned by their father experience more anxious, preventive and reactive jealousy than women who grew up in the presence of their father. The sample consisted of 186 female undergraduate students from Curaçao (age M = 22.88; SD = 5.68) who were categorized into two groups: women who grew up without their father and women who grew up in the presence of their father. We found that women who were abandoned by their father reported significantly more anxious and preventive jealousy than women who grew up in the presence of their father. There were no significant differences between these two groups in reactive jealousy. Possible explanations are discussed in light of the potential function of jealousy for females who grew up without a father.
The purpose of my article is to face up to, and to know more, about the depth-psychology of jealousy, which constitutes a part of my personal history of taking the path to becoming a psychiatrist and choosing to specialize in psychoanalysis. In other words, it is closely related to my experience of having achieved success, in a sense, in my early 20s, which made me the object of jealously, and experiencing the anxiety and fear that comes from being a total unknown who becomes one of “the Beatles of Japan.” I became something I wanted to be, but I was also scared of being scolded by God. I was expelled, at least psychologically, from Japan. I fled to London and underwent psychoanalysis. I desperately wanted to learn exactly what was happening to me, reading the story that was repeated in our hearts, in our fantasies, in my songs, and also in reality. In the course of both undergoing and studying psychoanalysis, I encountered something that was the last thing I wanted to recognize: my own sense of jealousy. I then concluded that my songs are created for you—that special someone who is there. They are not in any way created for someone to become just famous or just to please someone jealous.
This study investigated sex differences in jealousy after subliminal exposure to rivals wearing high-status or low-status clothes. It was expected that individual differences in preventive jealousy would moderate the relationship between a rival’s characteristics and jealousy. Participants (Men n = 54, age M = 21.61, SD = 3.47; n = 71 women, age M = 20.72, SD = 1.86) completed a parafoveal subliminal priming paradigm as well as questionnaires about jealousy and preventive jealousy. As predicted, women were not affected by their rival’s status, but women high in preventive jealousy reported more jealousy than women low in preventive jealousy. However, whereas men low in preventive jealousy reported equal amounts of jealousy after exposure to a high-status and a low-status rival, surprisingly, and contrary to the expectations, men high in preventive jealousy reported most jealousy after exposure to a low-status rival. To explain these unexpected results, threats to self-esteem were discussed.