Do you think jealousy is more of an instinct?

Do you think jealousy is more of an instinct like fear, self defensive measures or fleeing from danger, than it is an emotion like happiness or sadness?

I think jealousy is an emotion based in insecurity and fear. I think it has to be learned, unlike instincts.

Just my opinion, though.

I think it’s an emotion. I think it can feel as consuming and visceral as instinctual reactions are, but one does not have a spontaneous “Holy shit, I’m jealous” reaction to a random event like a thunderstorm. In order to feel jealousy, one must have an emotional attachment to a person or object.

Agree with freckafree.

True, so maybe it’s a side effect of emotions? Which would still not actually make it a full blown emotion, though. Weird

Depending on the type of jealousy, it can be a positive motivator.


I’m not sure I understand the question - all emotions are instinctive, aren’t they?

I don’t know if this means anything:

My 8yo autistic son gets VERY protective and jealous of a certain female class mate of his. He doesn’t like it at all if any of the other male classmates bother or even talk to her for that matter. (I say bother because she get’s picked on alot because of her autism. My son usualy comes to her rescue when this happens.)
I’m pretty sure my son has no concept of betrayal or “cheating” or even the dynamics of how a relationship is supposed to work.

So I’m thinking maybe it’s instinctive.

SHAKES, first I’d like to say how much I admire all the effort you must put in to raise an autistic son. Not many people could handle it.

That said, I agree that jealousy is a learned behavior. Hell, just look at the free love communities that have sprung up in this country over the past 150 years, or those darned hippies back in the 60s. Maybe what you’re seeing in your son isn’t the same thing as the jealousy you or I might experience? After all, infants and toddlers are as protective of their blankets without any concept of how relationships work.

I think jealousy is natural. I see my cats get jealous when I pet one of them and not the other, for instance. I think it’s a territorial instinct to promote oneself and drive off competitors for resources, of which a mate is a rather valuable one.

I once went to a seminar on jealousy given by a guy who wrote a book on it. I wish I could remember his name. Anyway, he told this story:

A husband and wife went to therapy because of the husband’s irrational jealousy. His wife had decorated their house with Christmas lights, and the lights she hung blinked in unison with the lights their neighbor put up. The husband fixated on this and was convinced there was something going on between his wife and the neighbor. This is completely absurd and nutty, of course, except that… yes, the wife WAS having an affair with the neighbor, as it turns out. The Christmas lights’ blinking was incidental, but the husband’s conscious mind seized on it as proof of something that he knew, unconsciously.

The moral of this story was that, while it may SEEM like jealousy is baseless and irrational, it is often an indicator that something is wrong. It should not be dismissed but investigated, to see what the cause is of the feeling. Over the years, I have learned to distinguish between when I’m just being silly and when the jealousy comes from a legitimate concern, and how to deal with it. I don’t think it’s wise to dismiss the feeling as simply a product of insecurity, to be disregarded out of hand.

I think jealousy is very natural. Small children often feel jealous of their younger siblings, and animals of children.

I think jealousy can be based in that instinctive competitive desire–to be seen as special, the best, the one and only. When other people succeed where you haven’t (in a relationship, in a task, etc.) it would trigger a defensive response, a need to promote self-worth.

WAG, YMMV, and all that hoopla.

In examining my own jealous reactions I get the impression that it is an instinctual emotion. This is just an impression, but I think it may be right.

That is not to say that learned behavior doesn’t play a part in the instinctual reaction of jealousy, of course it does, but that instinct is a key part of (most, at least) jealous reactions. (IMHO)

Huh? Have you looked at them?

If anything, experiments in “free love” suggest that there is something innate about jealousy.

No matter what idealized notion you might have about what sex should be, people become attached to the object of their desire, and disturbed when they perceive a possible usurper.

I think it’s biological. Genetic. It doesn’t matter if our lofty intellects conclude that sex is a simple pleasure and that there’s no advantage in cluttering it up with messy emotional attachments; we get stirred up when there’s a suggestion of someone else pairing with the person we’ve paired up with because that’s a naturally selected for trait if ever there was one.

The inhabitants of the monkey house display jealousy, and they didn’t learn it from As the World Turns.

Well, my female cat Felicity, gets obviously very jealous of other cats and people. She wants me all to herself, and if anyone else (human or cat) is around who pays attention to me, or who I pay attention to, she acts classicly jealous. I think it’s an instinct.

It’s genetic. In non-sexual jealousy it’s usually a fight for resources - attention from the parents, food, etc. In sexual jealousy it’s because men don’t want to be cuckolded (and spend years and years raising a child who doesn’t even carry his genes), and women don’t want the male’s resources (protection, food) to be diverted from her and her offspring. That’s it in a nutshell.

Matt Ridley’s book The Red Queen does an excellent job of explaining all of this, and more. Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene is a deeper look into all of this, and even gives an explanation of altruism that I found highly satisfying.