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Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2003;7(2):102-28.

A review of sex differences in sexual jealousy, including self-report data, psychophysiological responses, interpersonal violence, and morbid jealousy.

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Center for Brain & Cognition, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0109, USA.

Erratum in

  • Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2003;7(4):400.


The specific innate modular theory of jealousy hypothesizes that natural selection shaped sexual jealousy as a mechanism to prevent cuckoldry, and emotional jealousy as a mechanism to prevent resource loss. Therefore, men should be primarily jealous over a mate's sexual infidelity and women over a mate's emotional infidelity. Five lines of evidence have been offered as support: self-report responses, psychophysiological data, domestic violence (including spousal abuse and homicide), and morbid jealousy cases. This article reviews each line of evidence and finds only one hypothetical measure consistent with the hypothesis. This, however, is contradicted by a variety of other measures (including reported reactions to real infidelity). A meta-analysis of jealousy-inspired homicides, taking into account base rates for murder, found no evidence that jealousy disproportionately motivates men to kill. The findings are discussed from a social-cognitive theoretical perspective.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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