Home > psychology > Romantic Jealousy Effects on Cognitive Functioning

Romantic Jealousy Effects on Cognitive Functioning

jealousy8Most of us are familiar with Jealousy in romantic relationships, which is triggered primarily by infidelity, a significant threat to people’s long-term romantic relationships. Under this scope, jealousy is an effective mechanism to guard relationships.

Dr. Jon Maner of the University of Florida and his team studied the effect of romantic jealousyon implicit, low-level cognitive functioning. According to the results of the study, the fear of losing a partner affects the brain by hijacking attention and memory systems. This finding was more evident in the case of people displaying high chronic levels of romantic jealousy.

Dr Maner and his team suggested that concerns about infidelity may evoke a functionally coordinated cascade of cognitive biases, each aimed at guarding against threats posed by possible romantic competitors. Specifically, concerns about infidelity could strengthen encoding and memory for possible romantic rivals.

The researchers conducted four studies with hundreds of heterosexual student participants. The participants that showed high levels of chronic jealousy displayed enhanced encoding and memory for attractive same-sex targets. On the other hand, No effects were observed in people less inclined to worry about the threat of infidelity.

Furthermore, concerns about infidelity seem to promote intrasexual vigilance – cognitive biases and attunements directed at selectively processing attractive members of one’s own sex. More specifically, participants with high levels of jealousy process vigilantly only members of their own sex, who were rated highly attractive. Not only did they attend to attractive same-sex people but they also encoded, remembered and successfully identified them later on.

Suggested readings:

The Original Paper

How romantic jealousy hijacks the mind

Jealousy as a Function of Rival Characteristics: An Evolutionary Perspective

Automatic inattention to attractive alternatives: the evolved psychology of relationship maintenance

Can’t Take My Eyes off You: Attentional Adhesion to Mates and Rivals

(picture: “Jealousy by Steven Stahlberg)

  1. 02/08/2009 at 19:34

    Hmmm… why there were not homosexual participants? The effects of jealousy on the cognitive functioning of homosexual people is concidered to be different than on the one of heterosexual ones? And if yes, why?

  2. 02/08/2009 at 20:35

    Interesting comment! The didn’t choose homosexual participants because it seems that jealousy is different in homosexual relationships. Studies show that homosexual men express less sexual jealousy than heterosexual men. There are some relevant studies. I’d suggest reading these:

    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119257264/abstract

    http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/2/5/5/2/1/pages255217/p255217-8.php

    http://dspace.ou.nl/bitstream/1820/1207/1/sex%20differences%20in%20the%20events%20that%20elicit%20jealousy%20among%20homosexuals.pdf

  3. nou
    14/09/2011 at 18:02

    thanks for this article…
    find another article at http://newsonlineupdate.com

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