Jealousy is an emotion; the term generally refers to the thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, concern, and envy over lack of possessions, status or something of great personal value.
Jealousy can consist of one or more emotions such as anger, resentment, inadequacy, helplessness or disgust. In its original meaning, jealousy is distinct from envy, though the two terms have popularly become similiar in the English language, with jealousy now also taking on the definition originally used for envy alone.
Jealousy is a typical experience in human relationships, and it has been observed in infants as young as five months. Some claim that jealousy is seen in every culture; however, others claim jealousy is a culture-specific phenomenon. Jealousy can either be suspicious or reactive, and it is often a series of particularly strong emotions and a universal human experience.
Psychologists have proposed several idea's to study the processes underlying jealousy and have identified factors that result in jealousy. Sociologists have demonstrated that cultural beliefs and values play an important role in determining what triggers jealousy. Biologists have identified factors that may unconsciously influence the expression of jealousy.
Throughout history, artists have also explored the theme of jealousy in photographs, paintings, films, songs, plays, poems, and books, and theologians have offered religious views of jealousy based on the scriptures of their faiths.
The common experience of jealousy for many people may involve:
- Fear of loss
- Suspicion of or anger about a perceived betrayal
- Low self-esteem and sadness over perceived loss
- Uncertainty and loneliness
- Fear of losing an important person to another
The experience of envy involves:
- Feelings of inferiority
- Resentment of circumstances
- Ill will towards envied person often accompanied by guilt about these feelings
- Motivation to improve
- Desire to possess the attractive rival's qualities
- Disapproval of feelings
People can experience envy and jealousy at the same time. Feelings of envy about a rival can even intensify the experience of jealousy. Still, the differences between envy and jealousy in terms of thoughts and feelings justify their differences in philosophy and science.
Images for kids
A Japanese painting from 1750 shows a young woman catching her lover reading a love letter from a rival
Jealousy Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.