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Sexual Jealousy in Heterosexuals, Lesbians, and Gays

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Abstract

The present study tests various hypotheses about effects of gender and sexual orientation on jealousy. One hypothesis is derived from an evolutionary perspective and implies that the stimuli that elicit jealousy are sex-linked and independent of sexual orientation. Several others are based on a sociocultural perspective and imply that the experience of jealousy is linked to social experiences and beliefs that differ for men and women and for homosexuals and heterosexuals. To test these hypotheses, we examined the relative distress reported by heterosexual and homosexual participants while thinking about a partners' sexual vs. emotional infidelity. Participants were predominately Caucasian and included students at a Midwestern state university and attendees at a regional gay and lesbian conference. The results reveal that all groups except heterosexual men experience greater distress when confronted with a partners' emotional infidelity. This pattern contradicts the evolutionary hypothesis that the experience of romantic jealousy is sex-linked. However, our multifaceted attempt to identify social experiences or beliefs that account for the greater sexual jealousy of heterosexual men relative to everyone else was only partly successful.

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Correspondence to Virgil L. Sheets.

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Sheets, V.L., Wolfe, M.D. Sexual Jealousy in Heterosexuals, Lesbians, and Gays. Sex Roles 44, 255–276 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1010996631863

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