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Last edited: May 7, 2017
Do men and women differ in jealousy about their romantic partners? Research by Buss, Larsen, Westen, and Semmelroth (Exp. 1, 1992) suggested that the answer is yes. In that study, heterosexual men and women in the United States imagined their romantic partners engaged in emotional or sexual affairs with another person, and then indicated which scenario would be more upsetting to them. Men reported being more distressed when imagining their partners involved in sexual infidelity, whereas women were more distressed when they imagined their partners involved in emotional infidelity. Buss et al. concluded that their findings supported their hypotheses, which were derived from evolutionary theory.
Subsequent research either supported the Buss et al. (1992) findings or found limitations to their conclusions (Harris, 2003). For example, although Buss et al. used a forced-choice method in their study (e.g., “Which of these two scenarios is more upsetting?”), others have not found such clear sex differences when rating scales are used instead (DeSteno, Bartlett, Braverman, & Salvoes, 2002). In addition, cultural differences have also been found. For example, European and Asian men are more likely to choose emotional infidelity as worse, compared to American men (Harris, 2004).
The purpose of this study was to see if (a) we would replicate the original Buss et al. (1992) findings using an Australian sample in 2015, and (b) whether asking participants to rate their feelings would reveal the same sex differences that were reported in the original work. We therefore had separate hypotheses regarding the differences between men and women with respect to emotional infidelity and sexual infidelity.
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