Jealousy in the blink of an eye: Jealous reactions following subliminal exposure to rival characteristics

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Abstract

In the present experiment it was investigated whether the evaluation of rivals could be an unconscious process, engaged in automatically whenever a rival is present. To this end, participants were subliminally primed with words relating to rival characteristics after which they read a jealousy inducing scenario and their jealousy was assessed. It was hypothesized that for women, their self-reported mate value would act as a moderator on the effect the rival characteristics would have on jealousy. For men, it was expected that their satisfaction with their current relationship would act as a moderator. The results confirmed the expectations: women with low mate value reported more overall jealousy, but women with high mate value were more jealous after priming with attractiveness words. Men with high relationship satisfaction reported more overall jealousy than men with low relationship satisfaction, and especially after priming with social dominance words. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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