By Margarita Nahapetyan
Women in the workplace are more jealous and envious than men if the colleagues around them are attractive, finds a new international study. However, both men and women are equally jealous of co-workers who have strong social skills.
To come up with such a conclusion, researchers from the Universities of Valencia (Spain), Groningen (the Netherlands) and Palermo (Argentina), first involved 200 workers and scientists and asked them to fill out appropriate questionnaires. Based on the answers, the experts analyzed intrasexual rivalry - competition with other people of the same gender triggered by a desire to obtain and keep access to members of the opposite sex. After the analysis, 114 people were selected to further complete the study.
All subjects in the study represented a variety of business sectors, with 26 per cent of the participants holding administrative positions, 21 per cent working in the services sector, 30 per cent in education and others in health and other professions. Participants were equally balanced by gender, with an average age of 36 years, and all of them had worked for eleven years in their current company.
When analyzing the differences between men and women in feelings of envy and jealousy at workplace, the experts distinguished between these two emotions. Jealousy was defined as a threat or loss of success due to interference from a rival. Envy was defined as a response to another person who is successful, has skills or professional qualities they desire and involves feeling that is inadequate in comparison to the envied person. According to the investigators, these two emotions have not been studied in working environments and can cause stress in working individuals as well as negatively affect the quality of work life.
The results revealed that sexual competition at work generally provokes more negative emotions in women than in men. But a co-worker's social skills cause envy and jealousy both in men and women. Professor Rosario Zurriaga, researcher at the University of Valencia and one of the study's authors, said that these new findings demonstrate the importance of social skills in working contexts. Female workers, Zurriaga said, who have a high level of intrasexual competition are more jealous of a co-worker who is more pretty and attractive and more envious of a more powerful and dominating rival.
Researchers did not get any results in the male participants, as no rival characteristics that cause feelings of jealousy or envy predicted intrasexual competition. The authors believe that in order to avoid the negative effects of these feelings, people need to modify aspects such as perception of threat, loss or comparison with other colleagues at workplace. In regards of their research they said that this is one of the first studies that analyzes characteristics of rivals in in the work context and makes it easier to understand conflicts and problems that can take place in working relationships.
The new findings were reported in the journal Revista de Psicología Sociai.