Jealousy in Sexual and Emotional Infidelity: A Study of Sex Differences

  • Uma Bhowon
  • Jennifer Ah-Kion
  • Caroline Ng Tseung-Wong


A potentially rich framework for analyzing many aspects of interpersonal relationships has been provided by Evolutionary Psychology (Buss, 1994, Buss et al., 1999). With increasing frequency, jealousy as an aspect of relationship has been the focus of both empirical research and theoretical formulation.

It is often speculated that there are important gender differences with regard to the elicitation of jealousy. Women may be more threatened by the potential loss of attention and other emotional resources in a romantic relationship, whereas men may be more concerned about potential sexual infidelity. Based on the evolutionary model (Symons, 1979) it has been proposed that because males can never be completely confident about the paternity of any offspring they would be more concerned by sexual infidelity. Sexual infidelity would raise questions about paternity and the risk of investing resources, both human and economic, in another person's offspring. On the other hand, females would be more upset by emotional infidelity that might indicate a lack of long-term commitment and success of the relationship by the male. Females know that their offspring will have their genetic legacy, but need assurance that the partner will provide resources for the survival of the offspring (Cann et al., 2001).

Gender and Behaviour Vol. 2 2004: 225-239

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1596-9231