Sex/gender differences in romantic jealousy in the UK and China : integrating social-cognitive and evolutionary approaches
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Men and women differ in experiencing romantic jealousy: men are more distressed by sexual infidelity, women by emotional infidelity; men are more distressed by rivals surpassing themselves in attainment of resources, women by those who are more attractive. Evolutionary psychology proposes evolved sex-differentiated jealousy mechanisms, whereas cultural constructionism proposes effects of culturally ascribed meanings to men and women. This thesis explores gender differences in romantic jealousy in UK and Chinese populations from both theoretical perspectives, as well as other potential factors not pre-defined in previous research. Chapter Three tests EP predictions of sex difference in jealousy response to sexual versus emotional infidelity, and the social cognitive prediction that men and women’s different interpretations of infidelity—which type of infidelity is more likely to imply co-occurrence of both types-- create the gender difference. On-line survey responses from UK and Chinese non-student samples are analysed. With t-test and ANOVA, EP predicted sex effect is consistently found by the relative criterion but not by the stringent criterion. With mediation analyses, men and women’s different interpretations of infidelity are consistently found to mediate the overall gender differences. Chapter Four tests EP predictions of sex differences in jealousy response to different rival traits, as well as predictions derived from the social cognitive perspective. On-line survey responses from UK and Chinese non-student samples are analysed. With ANOVA, EP predicted sex difference is consistently found only for traits related to attractiveness, but not to social and physical dominance. With mediation analyses, men and women’s different speculations about each other’s mate preferences are consistently found to mediate the overall gender differences. Chapter Five presents a qualitative, bottom-up analysis of social media comments to celebrity affairs in the UK and China. Moral evaluations and attribution, both not directly related to the mating domain, are found to influence perceptions of infidelity. Relations to the Moral Foundations theory and attributional theory of jealousy are discussed. The Conclusion Chapter discusses the results in relation to EP and cultural constructionist theories. Implications for an integrative, domain-overlapping account of human sexual psychology are discussed.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Internationalhttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/
Embargo Date: 2025-08-16
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Restricted until 16th August 2025
Description of related resourcesData underpinning Mengxiao Zhou's thesis Zhou, M., University of St Andrews, 16 Aug 2025. DOI: https://doi.org/10.17630/50f91c4e-c77a-4890-a224-057f18180705
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