Could Jealousy Blind Us?

Could Jealousy Blind Us?

They say love is blind, but new research proves jealousy may be the culprit. In a new study,  professors from the University of Delaware discovered that women who were experiencing feelings of jealousy had more trouble with visual acuity tests.

The researchers selected twenty-five college-aged heterosexual couples to be the test subjects.  Each couple was seated in close proximity to one another at separate stations.  The woman was asked to pinpoint her “targets,” images of landscapes, from a quick succession of pictures flashing on a computer screen.  Simultaneously, researchers instructed the male to rate the beauty of pictures of landscapes on his computer.  Halfway through, the experimenter switched the male’s task to rating the looks of local, single women, while his girlfriend continued searching for targets.

At the experiment’s conclusion, each woman rated how uncomfortable she felt while her boyfriend assessed other women’s attractiveness.  According to the data, the women who felt most insecure during the experiment were also the individuals who did the poorest in identifying their targets.  Furthermore, their performance was better during the first portion of the test before they heard the announcement that their boyfriends would be evaluating other women.  Jealousy proved to be a distracting factor and consequently lowered their visual processing.

Thus far, the research has only focused on heterosexual women, so whether jealousy has a similar effect on men and homosexuals is yet to be tested.  Still, the initial data suggests that jealousy is such a powerful emotion that it may impair people’s cognitive abilities.

Jealousy is a response to a situation in which you feel threatened.  Jealousy is a complex reaction made up of many feelings occuring at the same time such as anger, envy, hurt, anxiety, sadness, and paranoia.  It makes sense that the complicated mix of emotions could easily lead to difficulty focusing, as demonstrated by this research.

Perhaps, jealousy should come with a warning label, “do not operate heavy machinery while jealous.”

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