Men, women and jealousy at work

Women are more affected than their male counterparts when it comes to sexual competition in the workplace, new research has suggested. Published in the journal Revista de Piscologia Social, the study also found both sexes are equally jealous and demonstrate professional envy regarding the social skills of a rival.

Investigators from the universities of Groningen in the Netherlands, Palermo in Argentina and Valencia in Spain noted the findings underline the importance of social skills in the workplace.

Rosario Zurriaga, a Researcher at the University of Valencia - which is home to more than 55,000 students - told SINC: "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."

Ms Zurriaga explained these feelings were different for men, as no rival characteristics caused a desire in them to increasingly obtain or keep access to the opposite sex.

Michael Guttridge, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "This research adds to that carried out at Ben-Gurion University in Israel and published last year by the Royal Economic Society.

"They found that if you are an attractive woman you have less chance of getting an interview if you send a photograph as most recruitment is carried out by young females who were jealous of potential rivals. Plainer women and men didn't have the same problem.

"This research takes us past the recruitment stage and into the workplace and seems to distinguish between attractiveness and perceived competence. US research shows that many women would rather be beautiful than competent or intelligent and this might also be the case with the women in this study.

"However it was the social skills (or emotional competence) that provoked both jealousy and envy in both men and women. I think men are more likely to be affected by pay and bonus differentials which wasn't included in this study although about half the participants are from the public sector where equal pay is more likely.

"The authors recommend that the perceptions of threat should be modified. One way companies do this is by introducing a dress code but that is not without its own problems. Developing employees' social skills could also be beneficial."