We all know deep down that feeling jealous isn’t pleasant. You probably know intuitively that it isn’t so good for our stress levels.
But a new study, done at The University of Delaware, shows the effects of jealousy to be far more detrimental. So detrimental that it can affect your ability to see…
The study itself is fairly complicated, so please bear with me.
The Setting: Heterosexual couples were put in the same room separated only by a curtain (so they could hear each other).
The Control: The male was given a meaningless test where he rated the attractiveness of images of landscapes – out loud.
At the same time, the female (who could hear the male answering the landscape questions) was given a project which tested her ability to spot certain targets within a range of backgrounds.
Researchers were tracking to see the female’s performance under these circumstances. They also asked the females how they felt about hearing her partner rate the landscape photos. (More on that later…)
Stage Two: A second test was conducted, only this time, the man was shown pictures of attractive women (instead of neutral landscapes) and asked to rate their looks. Remember, the female could hear what was going on.
To make it worse, the female could hear that the photos the males was evaluating were of single women who attended the same college as the couple (a total lie!).
The female had the same basic project of identifying targets on a background, but this time had to listen to her partner rate attractive females instead landscapes!
She was also asked about how she felt about this at the end of the experiment.
The idea behind the experiment was to see if “jealousy” (caused by the women hearing her partner rate attractive women) would affect her ability to spot the targets on the background, and to see if the self reporting of uneasiness correlated with any change in performance…
As you can probably guess, the female’s ability to spot the target decreased significantly when having to hear her partner rate attractive females. And, the more the female self reported uneasiness – the worse they did on the test.
A quick note, I don’t know why, but they only tested females, so there is no current way of knowing if the results are gender specific.
The idea here is really interesting, because it implies that at least one of the five senses (sight) can be drastically altered by jealousy. It would be interesting to see if other emotions had the same effect.
You might be saying to yourself, “of course, any distraction like that is going to alter performance.” And that would be a good point. They did have the control of non-emotional distraction. So this clearly shows the emotional component had the effect.
Sometimes science has to prove the obvious! This way, we can build a platform for future research.
Sometimes it is fun to guess how a particular piece of research can be generalized.
For some reason, the thought of cell phone use while driving came to mind. So aside from the obvious distraction of talking and driving, I am wondering if the emotional circumstances of the conversation (let’s say it is jealousy – giving your girlfriend the 5th degree on what she did last night with her “study partner”) could magnify the danger?
Wrapping this up, it is nice to see a study back up what every romance author has known since the beginning of time – jealousy is blinding!
This is kind of a fun one; please comment below with your thoughts.
*In case you were wondering, all of the couples in the tests were between 19-21 years old and had been together for an average of 10 months, some up to 36 months.
Most, Steven B., et all. “Blind Jealousy? Romantic Insecurity Increases Emotion-Induced Failures of Visual Perception.” Emotion. Vol. 10, no. 2: 250-262.
Science Daily Online. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100413160859