According to a new study, men and women deal with jealousy very differently in the workplace. 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. As for men being jealous of men, well that didn’t really happen. No rival characteristics that provoke jealousy or envy predicted intrasexual competition among men.
The study was done in Spain, the Netherlands and Argentina, so it’s not clear if it would describe workplace situations in other countries. The findings were detailed in the journal Revista de Psicología Social. In case you needed some clarification, intrasexual rivalry is competition with other people of the same sex caused by the desire to obtain and keep access to the opposite sex. Also, in this study jealousy is being defined as 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 a lack in comparison to the envied person.
The main thesis that was supposed to be learned from this study is that in order to prevent the negative effects of these feelings, companies should try to modify aspects such as the perception of threat, loss or comparison with others at work. That seems like a bit of a daunting task though. How do you make someone not feel like they are being threatened? Jealousy and envy is very common. “The grass is always greener” is a mentality shared by many people, even for weird reasons. But how do you curb jealousy? Expose everyone’s problems? “Sarah is really good at accounting but she has the dating life of a nun”? How will that work?
Two studies, including this one, from this week have showed that it is women that are bringing down their female coworkers and acting hostile towards them. Michelle Duguid, PhD, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Olin Business School and author of “Female Tokens in High-prestige Work Groups: Catalysts or Inhibitors of Group Diversification?” identifies two forms of value threat in a new study from this week that she thinks affect the behavior of female tokens in high-status work groups in the context of promotion and selection — competitive threat and collective threat.
“Competitive threat is the fear that a highly qualified female candidate might be more qualified, competent or accepted than you are,” Duguid says.“Women also might be concerned about bringing in another woman with lower qualifications, who could reinforce negative stereotypes about women and impact others’ impressions of them. This is collective threat.”
Jealousy, envy, intrasexual competition, competitive threat, collective threat. This is a lot of negativity when it comes to women in the workplace. I’m not sure what the solution is. I’m not an expert on making people not be jealous of eachother or feel threatened. What I will do is quote Tina Fey’s character in the film Mean Girls because maybe on some level it works in this situation. “You’ve got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.