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The article “Science Watch: From the same planet after all” by Benson (2002) explains the dynamics of jealousy in men and women. The study refutes another popular theory stating the men and women do not display any differences in jealousy when women have “other things to think about”.
Benson’s article expounds Buss’s research which asserts that evolutionary theories of jealousy are a primary reason for men and women to react differently to sexual or emotional infidelity. According to this theory, males are more worried about sexual infidelity while women show greater concern over emotional infidelity.
According to Buss’s theory males react more strongly to their partner’s sexual infidelity because of the fear of rearing a child belonging to a rival while females are more worried about their male partner’s emotional infidelity because they fear the loss of their partner’s support.
Benson (2002) explains that Buss’s theory is based on the premise of “evolutionary adaptation to the different reproductive challenges” which results in gender based differences to infidelity. Benson (2002) points that even though Buss’s research is “a widely accepted” theory, some psychologists have refuted the theory on the premise that the primary methods used to prove the theory are weak.
DeSteno refutes Buss’s theory that evolutionary forces which shaped jealousy are same in men and women and there are no differences. According to DeSteno, the benefits of a relationship, “romantic and unromantic are important to men and women at all stages of their lives”. DeSteno et al (2002) conducted a study to prove that the “forced-choice questionnaire” method is actually responsible for the gender based difference.
They proved that sex based differences were absent when participants were given a second task to perform. The hypothesis was confirmed when sexual differences surfaced only in the forced questionnaire method while the other methods showed equal ratings of men and women for sexual infidelity as an issue of prime concern.
Jealousy raises some fundamental questions about the causes of human behavior. Psychologists wonder about the universality about jealousy, a trait in humans which transcends the boundaries of experience and cultures, globally.
While Buss supports the evolutionary aspect of jealousy linking it to biology and evolution, DeSteno refutes it saying that reasoning abilities and social context, not evolution, are responsible for the emotion of jealousy.
Definitions and Evolutionary Theme of Jealousy
The article addresses the evolutionary theme of gender based differences in jealousy. Jealousy is “not only inbred in human nature, but it is the most basic, all-pervasive emotion which touches man in all aspects of every human relationship” (Anth Notes 3/21/13, pg. 41).
According to Pines (1992) jealousy is a complex reaction to a “perceived threat to a valued relationship” having “both internal and external components” (Anth Notes 3/21/13, pg. 41). In a study, Buss confirmed that jealousy is “a product of infidelity” and an important cause for divorce in many marriages (Anth Notes 3/21/13, pg. 41).
Evolutionary theorists propose that jealousy is a natural response to infidelity in humans (Wiederman & Allgeier, 1993). Ideally, both genders should be worried about their partner’s infidelity because emotions and sex are an important aspect of a relationship. However, men seem to be more concerned about sexual infidelity while women are more worried about emotional infidelity (Buss et al., 1992).
Studies indicate that men are more attracted to physical qualities in women while women are more attracted to men with high social standing and material resources (Buss, 1989). Evolutionary theory has its origin in this fact that males and females are biologically and emotionally different, displaying different sets of mating behavior.
The theory proposes that women and men show differences in sensitivity depending on the threat to their mating relationship; men worry about raising another man’s child while women show concern over a partner’s emotional attachment to another woman. Buss et al. (1992) state that men and women react differently to different types of jealousy.
The theory postulates that men show a high propensity of jealousy towards their female partner’s sexual infidelity while women will be more concerned about their male partner’s emotional closeness to another female (Buss et al., 1992).
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The article has been printed in a psychology magazine, Monitor Staff. As such, the target audience includes psychologists, teachers, students and scholars of psychology with an interest in evolutionary psychology.
The article is intended for the scientific community of researchers and scholars. However, since the article centers round the important theme of jealousy, which is one of the most basic of all human emotions, the general public would also enjoy reading the article. The article clearly explains the evolutionary theme and evolutionary research about jealousy and will be enjoyed by both males and females.
The article begins with an appealing statement which would attract a number of readers from diverse backgrounds, both scientific and non scientific.
The opening question, “Which would upset you more: (A) Finding out that your romantic partner was having passionate sex with someone else, or (B) Finding out that your partner was falling in love with someone else?” (Benson, 2002) makes a direct reference to all males and females involved in a romantic relationship or marriage. The introductory paragraph is presented in a “popular” light attracting the general populace.
However, the article gradually takes a “scientific” approach as it advances. The reader is immediately introduced to Buss’s evolutionary theory of jealousy with the disagreeing scholar, DeSteno’s stance.
Scientific evidence for and against the theory offers the reader with a candid view of the debates related to the theory of jealousy. References from scholarly studies give the article a scientific approach while the popularity of the theme makes the article appealing to the general public. The simple language and clear paragraphs make the article interesting to read and understand.
Comparison of Magazin Article to Original Article
The magazine article accurately conveyed the findings of the original article. The original article challenges the evolutionary theory of romantic jealousy and states that there are no differences in the responses of men and women to different types of infidelity.
DeSteno and his colleagues (2002) propose that men and women show equal concern over sexual infidelity; women do not give more importance to emotional infidelity as proposed by Buss’s evolutionary theory of romantic jealousy. The magazine article correctly reported that the ‘forced choice questionnaire method’ is responsible for the differences in infidelity responses of men and women to sexual and emotional infidelity.
Benson (2002) accurately reports the findings of the DeSteno et al (2002) who investigated that when women were given another task, sex differences in responses to infidelity disappear.
Benson accurately and succinctly reports DeSteno et al’s (2002) findings refuting the very basis of Buss’s evolutionary theory of jealousy. The magazine article did not under-report anything. It was brief, clear and to the point, written in a highly appealing and scholarly manner.
Critique and Usefullness of Evolutionary Theory
Jealousy is a universal emotion experienced by men and women in a relationship. Jealousy in a relationship could be the cause of emotional problems and feelings of insecurity. It is believed that jealousy is a specially evolved human behavior to reduce the chances of losing partners to a rival.
According to the evolutionary theory of jealousy, men and women differ in their reaction to the types of infidelity, men being more upset about sexual infidelity in women, and women being more worried about their partner’s emotional infidelity.
Knowledge about the evolutionary theory of jealousy, one of the most common emotions in humans is necessary since it tries to explain some of the rules governing this emotion. Since jealousy is strongly related to feelings of infidelity, it is crucial to know what triggers this emotion and the type of infidelity that causes maximum stress in partners.
An evolutionary understanding of jealousy is highly beneficial to this topic. A theoretical knowledge of jealousy would be beneficial to me and the general populace since it would explain the fundamentals of this human emotion and help in identifying and preventing infidelity among partners.
Since the evolutionary theory postulates that men are more like to be jealous by their partners sexual infidelity and women are more worried about emotional fidelity in their male partners, it is important understand the dynamics on which these differences are based.
Benson, E. (2002). Science watch: From the same planet after all. Monitor Staff, 33 (9), 34.
Buss, D.M. (1989). Sex differences in human mate preferences: Evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 12, 1-49.
Buss, D.M., Larsen, R.J., Westen, D., & Semmelroth, J. (1992). Sex differences in jealousy: Evolution, physiology, and psychology. Psychological Science, 3 (25), 1-255.
DeSteno, D.M., Bartlett, M.Y., Braverman, J., & Salovey, P. (2002). Sex differences in jealousy: Evolutionary mechanism or artifact of measurement? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 1103-1116.
Wiederman, M.W. & Allgeier, E.R. (1993). Gender differences in sexual jealousy: Adaptationist or social learning explanation? Ethology and Sociobiology, 14 (1) 15-140.