Standard Article


  1. Richard H. Smith,
  2. David J. Y. Combs

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0312

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Smith, R. H. and Combs, D. J. Y. 2010. Envy. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. University of Kentucky

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Envy is an unpleasant blend of discontent and ill will caused by noticing a desired advantage possessed by another person. People often confuse envy with jealousy, but they are distinct emotions (Parrott & Smith, 1993). Envy involves two people and arises when one lacks something enjoyed by another. Jealousy entails three people and arises when one fears losing someone (often a romantic partner) or something to a rival. The confusion derives partly from the dual meaning of “jealous,” which can be used to mean either envious or jealous. The term “envy” nearly always refers to the two-person case in which a person lacks a desired thing. Thus, we can say that Salieri was envious or jealous of Mozart's musical talent, but we would not say that he flew into an envious rage if his wife showed interest in Mozart. Jealousy would be the preferred label for his emotion in the latter case.


  • social emotions;
  • social comparison;
  • resentment;
  • and jealousy