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His or hers jealousy? Study offers new explanation for sex differences in jealousy
Date:1/26/2010

When South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was caught red-handed returning from a tryst with his Argentine mistress last June, he told the Associated Press that he had met his "soul mate." His choice of words seemed to suggest that having a deep emotional and spiritual connection with Maria Belen Chapur somehow made his sexual infidelity to his wife Jenny Sanford less tawdry.

What the two-timing governor didn't understand is that most women view emotional infidelity as worse, not better, than sexual betrayal. This may explain why Hillary Clinton stayed with Bill Clinton and seemed unconcerned about his sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky. Research has documented that most men become much more jealous about sexual infidelity than they do about emotional infidelity. Women are the opposite, and this is true all over the world. The prevailing theory is that the difference has evolutionary origins: Men learned over eons to be hyper-vigilant about sex because they can never be absolutely certain they are the father of a child, while women are much more concerned about having a partner who is committed to raising a family.

New research now suggests an alternative explanation. The new study does not question the fundamental gender difference regarding jealousyindeed it adds additional support for that difference. But the new science suggests that the difference may be rooted more in individual differences in personality that result from one's relationship history but that can fall along gender lines.

Pennsylvania State University psychological scientists Kenneth Levy and Kristen Kelly doubted the prevailing evolutionary explanation because there is a conspicuous subset of men who like most women find emotional betrayal more distressing than sexual infidelity. Why would this be? The researchers suspected that it might have to do with trust and emotional attachment. Some peoplemen and women alikeare more secure in their attachments to others, wh
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Contact: Catherine Allen-West
cwest@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

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