Evolutionary theories of jealousy, popularised in psychological circles by the research of Buss, Buunk and their colleagues, have aroused criticism by other researchers claiming that the design of these studies was confounded by a number of factors. This study in particular will test the ‘double-shot’ hypothesis of De Steno & Salovey in order to ascertain whether a 1992 study by Buss et al. still holds true when more rigorously tested on a larger population. Three questions regarding the activation of jealously via sexual and emotional infidelities will be considered in order to perform this test, then compared to the findings of previous studies in this field.
Jealousy; deadly sin, or evolved trait for genetic survival? Many recent studies in evolutionary psychology have probed this particular emotion in an attempt to identify a difference between the sexes. Buss et al (1992) of the University of Michigan conducted a study to define the activation of jealousy in male and female participants. This prompted later researchers to perform studies that questioned both the suitability of the apparatus used by Buss et al (1992), and the value of the data obtained for supporting their theoretical base. One of the limitations identified by De Steno & Salovey (1996) was what they termed a “double-shot” hypothesis; a tendency to equate emotional infidelity with sexual infidelity may have arisen from the wording of the questions. However, some of these later studies have been limited by the size of their populations, an issue we plan to investigate here.
It is important to identify differences that may exist between the sexes in order to establish a body of evidence that is testable against current and future theories of the evolutionary development of emotion. If jealousy is a genetic survival trait then, in theory, we should see a difference between males and females in activation of distress at emotional and sexual infidelity; males, having...