Women are more jealous of a work rival if they are attractive and work well with men
10:54 GMT, 4 May 2012
Women in the workplace are plagued by jealousy and envy when it comes to their more attractive colleagues, while men remain unfazed by such same-sex rivalry, a study has revealed.
But both men and women are equally envious of a rival's social skills.
Using questionnaires given to 200 workers, scientists analysed intrasexual rivalry, choosing 114 people to further complete the study.
Results showed sexual competition generally causes more jealousy and envy in women, but rivals' social skills provoke both emotions in both men and women.
Women feel envy and jealousy towards work rivals if they are
attractive, and even more so if they have good social skills
Professor Rosario Zurriaga, of the University of Valencia, said: 'This result shows the importance of social skills in work environments.
'Women with a high level of intrasexual competition are more jealous if the rival is more attractive and more envious if the rival is more powerful and dominating.
'They did not get any results in men, as no rival characteristics that provoke jealousy or envy predicted intrasexual competition.
'Our research intends to clarify the role of emotions like envy and jealousy at work. These feelings have not been studied in working contexts and can cause stress in workers and negatively affect the quality of working life.'
Researchers looked at intrasexual rivalry – competition with other people of the same sex caused by a desire to keep access to the opposite sex.
They distinguished between two emotions, envy and jealousy.
They defined jealousy as a threat or loss of success because of interference from a rival.Envy, according to the Spanish, Dutch and Argentinian researchers, is a response to another person who has skills or qualities they desire.
Green-eyed monsters: Men don't suffer the same envy or jealousy of same-sex colleagues' looks, but do envy their social skills
Out of the participants, 26 per cent worked in administration, 21 per cent in the services sector, 30 per cent in education and the rest in health and other professions.
The average age was 36 years, with an equal amount of men and women, all of whom had spent 11 years in their current company.
Prof Zurriaga, aided in the study by the University of Groninge, Netherlands, and University of Palermo, Argentina, believes in order to prevent the negative effects of these feelings, people should modify aspects like the perception of threat, loss or comparison with others at work.
Writing for the journal Revista de Psicologma Social, they said: 'This is one of the first studies that examines rivals' characteristics in this environment and contributes to a better understanding of conflicts and problems that can occur in working relationships.'