Neuroscience Social theorists don’t buy the evolutionary explanation, but neuroscientists tend to believe otherwise. Experiments show that physically men and women also respond differently to the idea of sexual and emotional infidelity- suggesting that jealousy is in fact not just between the ears.
Neuroscientist Joseph F. Landolfi and his team examined sex differences in reactions to imagined infidelity, by measuring the effects of visual images of potential sexual competitors. Participants in the experimental group were first asked to go through a collection of photo’s (men were given photos of other men, women received photos of other women), and had to pick out the one person they found most attractive. People in the control group did not participate in this part of the experiment. Sex or love Second, all participants were connected to instruments designed to measure electrodermal activity, the electrical conductance of the skin (which increases when a person starts sweating), and pulse rate. They were then asked to imagine the following situation: “Your boyfriend/girlfriend arrives home from a week-long vacation only to inform you that he/she finds another individual
to be very physically attractive. Although they have few common interests they have engaged in sexual intercourse within the last week. You are sure that your partner loves you and values your relationship together. Your partner has reassured you that the attraction to this person was purely physical. Try to feel the feelings you would have if you actually found yourself in this situation.” They were then instructed to imagine the person (the attractive man/woman in the photo) hitting on their partner. All participants, particularly the men, responded physically; their pulse rate increased, and so did the electrodermal activity. However, the people in the experimental group, which had a specific home wrecker in mind, reacted more strongly than the control group. During the second part of the experiment, participants had to imagine another scenario: “Your boyfriend/girlfriend arrives home from a week-long vacation only to inform you that he/she finds another individual to be very intriguing. They enjoy spending time together ex-
ploring common interests. You are sure that your partner loves you and values your relationship together. Your partner has reassured you that they have not engaged in sexual intercourse with each other.” Again, the experimental group was instructed to think of the person in the photo. As it turned out; both men and women found the ‘hot sex’ scenario more upsetting than the ‘special friendship’ one. However, this difference was significant for males but not for females. Visual stimuli provoked a stronger reaction than thought-produced stimuli: the experimental group, which could put a face on the imagined interloper, experienced more psychological distress.
Clearly, there’s an ongoing debate among different kinds of psychologists as to whether the evolutionary theory of jealousy explains the differences between the sexes and more importantly whether such difference exists. Different studies lead to different conclusions, and a general consensus will probably not be reached within the next decade. However, one thing is certain: men and women do respond differently when it comes to cheating. So if you’re a man planning on being unfaithful, don’t tell your girlfriend she’s already met your parents. And if you’re a woman, well, just don’t tell him anything at all.
I can’t help it John, I find this individual very intriguing.
Published on Aug 25, 2011