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Sex Differences In Jealousy Essay

2250 words - 9 pages

Sexual jealousy is a complex reaction to a perceived threat to a valued relationship. There are different theoretical approaches to sexual jealousy (Pines, 1992); of those, the only two that refer explicitly to gender differences are the socio-cultural and the evolutionary approaches. In the socio-cultural view, jealousy is a cultural phenomenon determined by social forces; sex differences in jealousy are influenced by social norms that define for both men and women the situations that trigger jealousy and the appropriate responses. According to the evolutionary approach (Archer, 1996), jealousy is an innate and universal response shaped by different evolutionary forces for men and for women; sex differences in jealousy are the result of an essential male-female asymmetry in parental confidence. Because of the different risks they face, women are expected to be less jealous than men and less concerned with the sexual infidelity of their partners than with the potential loss of attention and resources. In a series of studies aimed at supporting the evolutionary theory's predictions, Buss et al. (1992) asked U.S. students which would distress them more-"a deep emotional attachment" or "passionate sexual intercourse"--upon discovering that the persons with whom they were seriously involved were interested in other partners. More men than women were upset by the possibility of sexual infidelity, whereas more women than men were upset by potential emotional infidelity. This conclusion (Buss et al., 1992) has been challenged by Hupka and Bank (1994). Using social-constructionist and social-role perspectives, Hupka and Bank argued that the finding of Buss et al. was the result of ascribed gender norms rather than the result of innate sex differences in propensities for jealousy. They supported their argument with two studies and numerous ethnographic reports that favor a socio-cultural perspective. The evolutionary view, in which sex differences in jealousy are biologically induced, had also been challenged in other studies with a socio-cultural interpretation corroborated by ethnographic research (Hupka & Ryan, 1990). Besides the socio-cultural and evolutionary theorists, other investigators of gender differences in jealousy also have obtained inconsistent results. White and Mullen (1989,p. 127) argued that "most research has reported no gender differences in the level of reported jealousy, and those studies finding a difference are not consistent in finding one gender to be more jealous than the other." Some researchers have found no gender differences in jealousy; some have found that men are more jealous than women and still others have reported that women are more jealous than men. In response to the discovery of an infidelity, women are more likely than men to report that they would physically and verbally abuse their unfaithful mates and would be more emotionally reactive. The question has also been raised about whether jealousy means the...

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