A new international study finds that in a work environment, sexual competition affects women more than men.
However, researchers discovered that both men and women are jealous of peers who have strong social skills.
In the study, a group of researchers from Spain, the Netherlands and Argentina analyzed the differences between men and women in feelings of envy and jealousy at work.
“Women with a high level of intrasexual competition are more jealous if the rival is more attractive and more envious if the rival is more powerful and dominating. They did not get any results in men, as no rival characteristics that provoke jealousy or envy predicted intrasexual competition,” said psychologist Dr. Rosario Zurriaga, one of the authors of the study.
Intrasexual rivalry is competition with other people of the same sex caused by the desire to obtain and keep access to the opposite sex.
Zurriaga, together with researchers at the universities of Groningen (the Netherlands) and Palermo (Argentina) analyzed this type of rivalry using questionnaires distributed directly to 200 subjects in their workstations.
Investigators distinguished between two emotions: jealousy and envy. Jealousy is a threat or loss of success in a relationship due to interference from a rival and implies a loss or threat of loss of what they had. Envy is a response to another person who has success, skills or qualities that they desire and involves feeling inadequate in comparison to the envied person.
According to their results, sexual competition generally causes more jealousy and envy in women. However, rivals’ social skills provoke both emotions, both in men and women.
“This result shows the importance of social skills in work environments” Zurriaga stated.
The researchers hope the findings will allow proactive interventions to improve the workplace environment.
“Our research intends to clarify the role of emotions like envy and jealousy at work. These feelings have not been studied in working contexts and can cause stress in workers and negatively affect the quality of working life,” the researchers added.
“This is one of the first studies that examines rivals’ characteristics in this environment and contributes to a better understanding of conflicts and problems that can occur in working relationships.”
Study participants represented a variety of business sectors with 26 percent of participants involved in administration, 21 percent in services sector, 30 percent in education and the rest in health and other professions.
Participants were equally balanced by gender, with an average age of 36 years, and 11 years with their current company.