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Jealousy: A Community Study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Paul E. Mullen*
Monash University
J. Martin
Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand
Rosanna Forensic Psychiatry Centre, Private Bag No. 1, Rosanna, Victoria 3084, Australia


This study represents the first attempt to study sexual jealousy in a random community sample. Jealousy was reported by all subjects. Men, when jealous, were particularly concerned about the potential loss of the partner, whereas women were more concerned with the effects of infidelity on the quality of the relationship. Behaviours such as searching the partner's belongings or inspecting their clothes for signs of sexual activity correlated with unusually intense jealousy. Men tended to cope with jealousy by using denial and avoidance, whereas women were more likely to express their distress and to try to make themselves more attractive to their erring partner. Greater jealousy concerns were expressed by young men who had either married early or were now living without a partner. Heavy drinkers and those reporting more psychiatric symptoms were also more prone to jealousy. A clear correlation emerged between lowered self-esteem and increased jealousy, which was particularly marked in women, for whom robust self-esteem was virtually incompatible with high jealousy concerns. The study supported the prosaic notion that those who are satisfied with their romantic attachments are less prone to jealous suspicions. This study offers a starting point for the clinician seeking information about the experience of jealousy in the community.

Copyright © The Royal College of Psychiatrists 

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