The Evolution of Jealousy
Did men and women, facing different selective pressures, evolve different "brands" of jealousy? Recent evidence suggests not
Of the human emotions, jealousy is one of the most powerful and painful. And it is deadly: Statistical studies rank jealousy as the third most common motive for murder. Recently evolutionary psychologists proposed that jealousy is a specific innate module, a circuit in the brain that reflects the different selective pressures that acted on ancestral men and women. According to this theory, men typically become jealous when they suspect sexual competition, a response to the threat of cuckoldry. Jealousy in women, in contrast, is triggered by suspicion of emotional betrayal: Women sense that their children’s survival might be threatened should a philandering mate divert resources to another women and her children. Harris reviews this theory critically in light of new studies suggesting that a gender difference is not so clear, and offers alternative hypotheses.
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