Psychology ETDs

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Envy functions in resource competition situations in which a competitor out-competes oneself in a fitness relevant domain (Hill & Buss, 2006, 2008). Research suggests that there are two types of envy, a hostile version, aimed at depriving the envied person of his or her advantage, and a benign version, aimed at gaining an advantage for oneself (Parrott, 1991; van de Ven, Zeelenberg, & Pieters, 2009). Three predictions were derived from the hypothesis that the selection of envy type is functional, taking into account the costs and benefits of a benign versus a hostile response: 1) Hostile envy was expected to be more likely when the advantage cant be acquired without taking it from the envied. 2) Benign envy was expected to be more likely when the relationship with the envied person is highly valuable to the envier. 3) Benign envy was expected to be more likely when the social environment favors the envied person. Additionally, the emotions experienced as part of envy were proposed to mediate the relationships between elements of the situation and responses to envy. Using a daily diary method, participants described their everyday experiences of envy, which were categorized as benign or hostile based on taxometric and latent class analyses. Prediction 1 was fully supported and prediction 2 was largely supported. Prediction 3 was not supported; instead participants' beliefs about the envied person's deservingness directly affected envy type. Mediation analyses supported the proposal that emotions mediate the relationships between situations and responses. The degree to which the envied person's possession of the advantage makes it harder for the envier to get emerged as an important factor in how one responds to hostile envy.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Miller, Geoffrey

Second Committee Member

Vigil, Jacob

Third Committee Member

Thornhill, Randy




evolutionary, hostility, envy, emotion, social comparison

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Psychology Commons