University of Iowa researchers are studying that green-eyed monster called jealousy. Brian Gehl, a U-of-I graduate student in social psychology, is one of the lead investigators in the study. Gehl says they’re asking Iowans to talk about their lives, their relationships and more specifically, how jealousy may affect those relationships.
"This study is looking at the different ways that people experience jealousy and one of our main focuses is what people do after they have those feelings," Gehls says, "do they talk to their partner about their feelings? Do they close up and not talk about their feelings? Do they try and get revenge, make their partner feel jealous? There’s all different kinds of responses that people can have to jealousy."
Gehl and his research team are talking with married people who admit they have a jealous streak. Gehl says, "My goal is to find out what are the sort of behaviors that people should engage in that will help them deal with the jealousy in an effective way, basically a way that will make them happy and will make their partner happy and won’t lead to further problems in the relationship or the relationship breaking up, things like that." One of his goals is to be able to provide clinicians with a foundation for the methods they use in their therapies in working with couples who are experiencing problems. Gehl, a 30-year-old North Dakota native, says there is a certain stigma associated with jealousy and it may be hard for some people to admit they get jealous.
Gehl says: "Some people can perceive it as a sign of weakness or there’s something wrong with you, but there’s also this fear that your partner could be cheating on you. People also don’t want to be in that situation. Evolutionary theorists in general have argued that’s why we have this emotion of jealousy. It protects us from being cheated on." He says they’re studying what factors in jealousy bring on what emotions and reactions — from feelings of worry to sadness to anger.