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Jealousy over flirting 'can change the way we perceive ourselves'

Posted on: July 12, 2013 16:45:58

Jealousy over flirting Spotting your partner flirting with someone else can result in you seeing yourself more like your romantic rival.

This is the conclusion of three studies that have been published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, which saw researchers test what happens to people when they enter a state of jealousy.

Previous research indicated people will often change their personality if they want to make themselves more attractive to someone they fancy, but this new development suggests the opposite can also be true.

Erica Slotter of Villanova University, one of the lead writers of the research paper, said the work "was really novel in that we were looking at whether individuals would be willing to shift their self-views to be more similar to a romantic rival."

Researchers predicted there would only be a behaviour change if the partner was seen to be flirting back and set test subjects a number of scenarios to test the theory.

Participants were asked to rate their personal attributes and then imagine they were in a setting where their partner was flirting with another man or woman. Following this, the researchers asked how jealous the situation made the participants feel, before showing them a personality profile of the fictional flirter.

They were then asked to re-rate their attributes and many said they changed their opinion based on the profile of the love rival.

"Individuals who thought their romantic partner was interested in someone who was athletic or musically inclined reported themselves as more athletic or musically inclined at the end of the study than they had at the beginning," Ms Slotter explained.

The research is by no means conclusive and Ms Slotter said the next step is to work out whether jealously changes behaviour as well as people's opinions on their own personality - based on the theory that people will try to adopt more of the traits found in those they are worried their partner is attracted to.

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