The Cultural Factor in Lay Perception of Jealousy as a Motive for Wife Battery1


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    This research was partly funded by a visit grant offered to the two Spanish authors from The British Council (MDR/2502/065).

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Ana Delgado, Fac. Psicologia, Universidad de Salamanca, Avda. de la Merced 109-131, E-37005 Salamanca, Spain, e-mail:


Cultural psychology is concerned with the comparative study of the way culture and psyche shape each other: This process is particularly well illustrated in the social construction of some feelings. Although sexual jealousy seems to be universal, people differ in the intensity of their reactions and in the type of stimuli perceived as threatening. Replicating previous research in Britain by Delgado and Bond (1993), a questionnaire research survey was conducted in Spain to determine if lay perception considers jealousy a justification for wife battery. The comparison of results shows striking differences: The harmdoer was seen as more guilty in Britain and the victim was seen as more guilty in Spain. Results demonstrate cultural differences in the perception of jealousy; when jealousy is a motive for assault, there are also cultural differences in judgments of responsibility. Emotions function differently in different cultures regarding perceived causes and justification for conduct.