Sexual Jealousy from a Sociobiolgocal Perspective
This research topic submitted by Sam S. Roger P. Joshua E. (firstname.lastname@example.org) on 2/25/98.
"Jealousy is a universal feeling. The feeling is normal until
it is acted upon and the behavior or actions become irrational
Jealousy does not have boundaries. It penetrates all social positions,
intellectual levels, ages, races, and economic strata" (Bernhard,
xi). This projects focus is to determine if what we have found
out thus far, is still accurate. Buss conducted a survey on the
reactions of men and women to jealousy and recorded the differences.
The sociobiological perspective agrees with Busss assessment.
Men tend to react more strongly to sexual indiscretion while women
tend to find emotional infidelity more distressing. We will conduct
our own experiment to see if it validates or refutes the above
arguments. The theoretical context or standpoint will be from
a sociobiological perspective as well as from a cross-cultural
point of view. These examples will come from religious, legendary,
and literary materials. Our methods of ensuring primary data will
include our own analysis of others experiments and surveys that
we create, conduct, and qualify.
In order to understand the theoretical context for the sociobiology
of sexual jealousy, it would first be helpful to briefly explain
the notion of sociobiology itself. Sociobiology explains aspects
of human nature in terms of the theory of evolution, based on
the 95% existence of the human race in the Pleistocene age. Sociobiology,
or Evolutionary Psychology, serves to take a particular behavior
(jealousy in this instance) and explain it as an adaptation which
somehow enhances fitness in a particular environment. We have
chosen to examine the aspects of sexual jealousy from a sociobiological
standpoint. This type of jealousy involves a perceived threat
to an intimate, committed relationship between two individuals,
most often sexually or physically involved.
The basis for the sociobiological standpoint on jealousy deals
out and out with paternity confidence: involving the fundamental
physiological differences between men and women. Males have a
high food intake for their larger and more energetic bodies. Men
also have a much greater amount of testosterone than females.
The resulting differences is that men are larger, stronger, and
more aggressive. The man was designed (evolutionarily speaking)
to have as many offspring as possible because of a low paternal
investment rate. Women on the other hand, are designed to have
only a few children?with a high rate of paternal investment. "Paternal
investment is the energy expended by parents to produce and nurture
offspring. More accurately the term refers to the decrement in
future reproductive potential as a consequence of present effort"
(White and Mullen, 60). The mother always knows who her children
are, and has a naturally high level of parental confidence. Her
reproductive strategy is to have a few children and protect them;
a males is to have as many children as possible in the hopes
that at least a few will survive. As a result his natural tendencies
lean toward aggression and displays of physical prowess. This
is to attract desirable mates in order to perpetuate his genes,
as well as to protect his mate from other males. It also accounts
for the male desire to mate with as many females as possible.
As a result the male is very concerned with paternity confidence.
In humans, however, sexual dimorphism for males is very low and
paternal investment is very high. As a result the male needs to
have a very high instance of paternity confidence?to make sure
his genes are being passed on. As a result jealousy is one of
his main weapons in terms of ensuring paternity confidence. This
results in many things. Men become very upset, even violent, at
an instance of sexual indiscretion by a mate. This is to protect
their investment and it is one of the few tools they have to do
it (White and Mullen).
Women, on the other hand, have bodies that run on a proportionately
small amount of food in comparison to males. They use this energy
efficiency for gestation and lactation. Their relatively high
paternal investment is to pass their genes on. In the human species,
because of low male sexual dimorphism they require a higher level
of investment from men. Women raise their children and expect
and require resources from their mates. When these resources become
threatened, then the woman becomes jealous to protect her interests
and those of her children (White and Mullen).
In summary high male investment explains the relatively weak sexual
dimorphism in humans, while the necessity of paternity confidence
has led to human males having sexual jealousy marked by violence
and consistent attempts to restrict the sexual behavior of women.
Female jealousy is centered more on concerns related to paternal
investment than on male extrarelationship sexuality per se, as
greater paternal investment should increase the chance of survival
for the females offspring. In short, sociobiological theory holds
that female jealousy is marked by fear and anxiety over losing
the relationship and by an interest in the nature of the rival
relationship, whereas male jealousy, focusing on the sexual threat
of the rival, is marked by competitiveness and aggression, and
is much less affected by situational factors suggesting that the
mate is still interested in maintaining the primary bond.
Aside from the scientific studies that have been done on jealousy,
there is further proof that it is a fundamental part of human
nature: and that is its existence in every culture on the planet
as well as its appearance in religions. The definition of God
is a lord who tolerates no other gods beside him and who describes
himself as so jealous that he will visit the "sins" of the fathers
upon the children unto the third or fourth generation (Baumgart,
82). God the Father, in whose image humanity was created (as man
and woman), who was viewed throughout almost two thousand years
of Western history as the revealed and therefore true God (and
still is), and who is mentioned in constitutions, names of political
parties, and school regulations?this God is jealous (Baumgart,
83). When we consider Gods jealousy, we arrive at "the innermost
part of the personal and living God, and are led to admiring contemplation
of the mirabilia Dei". Jealousy as a "mirabilium Dei," something
that is to be admired in God?not, therefore, how awful that God
is jealous, but how wonderful. Furthermore, it is less a matter
of the concept of jealousy (and possibly its exemplariness) than
of showing what God is like, with the help of the concept of jealousy.
Because, as we may conclude, jealousy is something so well known
everyone is familiar with it; on the other hand, it is something
so strange, alien and fearful that it qualifies as an attribute
of God, who is termed "the hidden one" by theologians in many
"He is jealous, because he loves": this assumes that it is obvious
that someone who loves is also someone who is jealous (Baumgart,
It is not just Christianity, in which Jealousy plays a role. Stories
abound in mythology of Jealousy and the havoc it wreaks. Numerous
tales of the affairs of Greek Gods and the revenge their mates
take upon those unfortunate mortals touched by another of the
Pantheons love. Many a woman was transformed by Hera, for mating
with Zeus. A war was fought over Helen of Troy. Sir Tristram of
Lionness, died because of a broken heart caused by Iseult who
loved him, over another Iseult whom he loved. Jealousy even affected
the greatest swordsman of Japan, Miyamoto Musashi(a Kensai, who
sought enlightenment through study of the sword). His childhood
best friend attacked him out of jealousy for his success and for
the love of a woman (needless to say, his friend lost). However,
while the above two paragraphs are more than adequate in showing
the existence of jealousy in many different cultures it is not
the only evidence. There is further scientific proof on the subject.
In one study, for example, Buss asked males and females to imagine
that their mates were having sex with someone else or that their
mates were engaged in a deep emotional commitment with another
person. Monitoring his subjects heart rates, frowning and stress
responses, he found that the stereotypical double standard cuts
both ways. Men reacted far more strongly than women to the idea
that their mates were having sex with other men. But women reacted
far more strongly to the thought that their mates were developing
strong emotional attachments to someone else.
The methods we plan to use are threefold. We plan to do our own
analysis of Busss experiment. First we plan to reenact Busss
experiment, if possible. In order to do that, we will have to
visit the psychology department and see if they have the appropriate
equipment. In addition, we will have to learn how to use the necessary
equipment or have someone on hand to help us interpret the results.
Obviously, we do not have the training to record the medical readouts
of the necessary machines, or even to properly interpret the signs
of physiological stress on the body caused by this experiment.
To this end we will need to seek help. Then we also plan to create
our own survey and do our own analysis of the results. We plan
on surveying the student body of Miami University as well as members
of the local population. Finally we also thought it might be useful
to use a jealousy quiz online and see what sort of answers we
got. If we could have other members of the western community fill
one out and give us the results, it would help us out tremendously.
Perhaps it might be possible to contact the owner of the page
where a quiz is listed and get all their results: in light of
the fact we are endeavoring in academic project.
When we obtain our results, we plan on putting them into use as
a basis for our theories. We hope to use this research in order
to prove the sociobiological aspects of jealousy. The process
will include analyzing our findings and incorporating them into
a scientific paper that can be used as the basis for others theories.
If possible, we will use graphs and charts, created with StatView
or a program called StataQuest, in order to visually explain the
results we take in.
We hope this project will reinforce the materials we have already
researched. Everything seems to point the way of the sociobiological
argument?it seems almost like common sense. We are also fully
aware, however, that people (for the most part) are autonomous
rational beings and capable of consciously controlling natural
impulses. In the event that our own research does not support
that of Buss and sociobiology we will have to take that into consideration.
We plan to use the cultural and religious contexts, as well as
the sociobiological argument as our context for research. The
research may include the reproduction of previous studies, our
interpretation of their results (and ours, naturally), and our
own research. We will find out whether or not Buss and the sociobiologists
are still correct.
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