Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Program

Psychology

Date of Award

8-2014

Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Ginette C. Blackhart

Committee Members

Matt McBee, Eric Sellers, Jon Webb, Stacey Williams

Abstract

A large body of research has demonstrated that the experience of romantic jealousy is often associated with a variety of negative outcomes. However, evolutionary psychologists have provided evidence that jealousy is an adaptive emotion that can aid with mate retention. Together these lines of research suggest that jealousy may at times work to protect and enhance one’s relationship, whereas in other cases it could lead to harmful consequences. Considering the varying outcomes of jealousy, it is critical that research explore more specifically how this complex state operates and how it affects individuals’ functioning. In the present research I conducted 2 separate studies in order to examine how jealousy is related to self-control. In Study 1 I used an online survey to examine how individuals’ trait self-control was related to their levels of chronic jealousy. Results showed that trait self-control was negatively associated with cognitive and behavioral jealousy but was not associated with emotional jealousy. Additionally, all 3 components of jealousy explained variance in self-control above and beyond the effects of self-esteem and rejection sensitivity. In Study 2 I used hypothetical scenarios in order to experimentally examine how imagined infidelity would impact individuals’ state self-control. Furthermore, based on research demonstrating sex differences in distress based on different types of infidelity, I examined how imagined sexual and emotional infidelity would differentially impact males’ and females’ state self-control. Using a 3 x 2 between-subjects design, participants from a primarily young adult sample were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 conditions: emotional infidelity, sexual infidelity, and a control. Afterward, state self-control was assessed through a behavioral task. Results showed no differences in state self-control based on condition and no difference between males and females based on type of infidelity. There was a main effect for sex, such that males generally showed higher self-control than females across all 3 conditions. Although the results demonstrate that chronic jealousy and trait self-control are associated constructs, the findings from Study 2 suggest that the experience of jealousy not does impact state self-control. Methodological concerns are addressed and future avenues are presented for researching how jealousy and self-control may be related.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.

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