Romantic Jealousy Effects on Cognitive Functioning
Most 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.
(picture: “Jealousy by Steven Stahlberg)