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Some people are just jealous of many things they perceive others to possess. Materially or as part of that person.

Is a person who is prone to jealousy more likely to be jealous in romantic relationships?

or does sexual jealousy have different roots.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

As Parrot and Smith have said (1993), "envy and jealousy are confounded by laypersons and scholars alike (Schoeck, 1969)", while in psychology, philosophy, and the social sciences in general, a distinction is drawn between jealousy and envy:

[E]nvy occurs when a person lacks another's superior quality, achievment, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it. It occurs when this shortcoming exists in a domain that is self-definitional (Salovey & Rodin, 1984), and it intensifies with self-dissatisfaction and when superioority in alternative comparison domains is lacking (R. H. Smith, Diener, & Garonzik, 1990). ... Jealousy, by contrast, necessarily occurs in the context of relationships. It occurs when a person fears losing an important relationship with another person to a rival—in particular, losing a relationship that is formative to one's sense of self (Hupka, 1991; Rorty, 1988, chap. 7). (Parrot & Smith, 1993)

As studies have shown, envy appears to be characterized by feelings of inferiority, longing, resentment, and disapproval of the emotion. Jealousy appears to be characterized by fear of loss, distrust, anxiety, and anger. (Parrot & Smith, 1993).

So, if you write: "Some people are just jealous of many things they perceive others to possess. Materially or as part of that person.", then you are actually not talking about jealousy, but about envy, and your question must read:

Are envious individuals more likely to experience sexual jealousy?

As experiments and surveys show, both envy and jealousy are caused by threatened self-esteem (DeSteno, Valdesolo & Bartlett, 2006; Parrot, 1991), so it might be concluded that the propensity for both emotions would be equally high or low in one individual. But that is not necessarily so. Findings suggest that

a distinction might be made between different types of self-esteem, or between different routes to lowering self-esteem. ... In envy one's own appraisal leads to dissatisfaction with oneself. In jealousy, the reflected appraisal of another leads to a lack of security and confidence. (Parrott, 1991)

Feelings of jealousy appear to be equally high in different individuals (and both sexes) if they face the same situations (Salovey & Rodin, 1985). Nevertheless there might be

certain personality characteristics that might make some people particulaly prone to jealousy. ... The people whose responses indicated a high degree of jealousy were those who also reported these three personality characteristics: having a low opinion of themselves, seeing a large discrepancy between how they really are and what they would ideally like to be and valuing highly such visible achievements as becoming wealthy, famous, well-liked and, especially, physically attractive. (Salovey & Rodin, 1985)

Variance in self-esteem is attributable to genetics, parenting style, perceived appearance, and past experiences of success and failure (Emler, 2001). Nevertheless, in intensity of jealousy was mostly moderated by how secure and committed the current relationship felt (Salovey & Rodin, 1985). Thus it seems that environment factors play at least an equally strong role in promoting jealousy as personality traits or states. Because, of course, "close and loving relationships with others later in life do contribute positively to self-esteem. But" – and here the circle closes – "the likelihood of forming and sustaining successful relationships of these kinds is itself higher when self-esteem is higher in the first place." (Emler, 2001)


  • DeSteno, D., Valdesolo, P., & Bartlett, M. Y. (2006). Jealousy and the threatened self: Getting to the heart of the green-eyed monster. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 626-641. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.91.4.626
  • Emler, N. (2001). Self-esteem: The costs and causes of low self-worth. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
  • Parrott, W. G. (1991). The emotional experiences of envy and jealousy. In P. Salovey (Ed.), The Psychology of Jealousy and Envy (pp. 3-30). New York: Guilford Press.
  • Parrott, W. G., & Smith, R. H. (1993). Distinguishing the experiences of envy and jealousy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 906-920. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.64.6.906
  • Salovey, P., & Rodin, J. (1985). The heart of jealousy. Psychology Today, 19, 22-29.
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Generally I like the process of achieving knowledge to be visible, and personally, I would leave the question as it was. That way everyone has the opportunity to think about the relationship between envy and jealousy and either come to a different conclusion than I did and post a different answer, or learn something new. If you prefer to edit your question, I would delete the first part of my answer, because it is now obsolete. – what Aug 19 '13 at 9:58

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