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Abstract

Previous research has shown that in men jealousy is evoked more by a rival's status-related characteristics than in women, whereas in women jealousy is evoked more by a rival's physical attractiveness than in men. The present study examined whether the occurrence of this gender difference depends upon the type of infidelity one's partner engages in, i.e., emotional or sexual infidelity, and whether these types of jealousy evoke different emotional responses. An experiment was conducted using hypothetical jealousy situations with a 2 (participant gender: male vs. female) × 2 (rival physical attractiveness: high vs. low) × 2 (rival dominance: high vs. low) × 2 (type of infidelity: sexual vs. emotional) mixed-factor design. Jealousy evoked by emotional infidelity was primarily characterized by feelings of threat, and jealousy after sexual infidelity was primarily characterized by feelings of betrayal and anger. Following emotional infidelity, in men, a rival's dominance, and in women, a rival's physical attractiveness, evoked feelings of threat but not feelings of anger-betrayal. In contrast, after sexual infidelity, in men, but not in women, a rival's physical attractiveness evoked feelings of betrayal-anger but not anxiety or suspicion.