Friday, May 6, 2011


The Jealousy Experiment

What if someone played this trick on you:

Researchers set things up so that two people — a woman and a man — were asked to work on a problem-solving task. The guy acted all charming and flirtatious … but when another female participant arrived, 10 minutes late, he lost all interest in the first woman and focused almost entirely on the second. After about 10 minutes of that, the person in charge interrupted the trio, informing them that there could be only two people in each group. The male turned immediately to the latecomer and said, "Want to work together?"

Now, of course, the male was in cahoots with the psychologists in charge. Everything he did was pre-arranged. He was supposed to flirt with the first lady, then pretend to lose all interest when the second arrived.

When the first woman got dropped, what did she do? In many cases, her face literally dropped. Other times, she let out a gasp. Or she said nasty, scolding things to the other two. In other words, she got extremely jealous ... of a man she'd only spent a few minutes with, whose interest in her wasn't even real.

The only way this could be better is if notes fell from both the man and the second woman's pockets, and when you went to pick them up you saw they were covered in detailed descriptions of your physical flaws. But no, it was all done in the name of science, and the researchers' theory that it would suck to have this happen to you was proven accurate.

49 Comments / Post A Comment

Magpie Shinies

This would suck no matter who did it to you, man or woman.


Can someone explain to me what is the scientific purpose of this study? I am not being facetious, I truly do not get what new knowledge they could get that would justify the gratuitous sadism.

Edith Zimmerman

@boricuaintexas Yeah, sorry, I have no idea. Horrible thing is horrible.


@boricuaintexas I wondered that too. I think the only vaguely interesting piece of info they discovered is how easy it is to instill jealousy (therefore it must have evolutionary value they conclude). I think our secondhand feelings of horror would be no surprise to these researchers. Jealousy is so strong and so easily induced we can feel it by reading about it.


I think an interesting experiment could be done, but this wasn't it! Very heavy-handed.


@HelloTitty: i'd say the evolutionary trait this study plays off is human dependence on social groups. if you are assed out of a group for no reason you feel that your survival is less secure. and yeah, i'd bet this would piss off anyone; gays, dudes, ladies, mixed groups, same sex groups, whatever.


Come on people this is basic research. We all think we know what jealosy is but being able to quickly and reliably creat it in a test subject is the first step to further research.


'Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself. Interesting. How does it feel when you hit yourself?' #OHSPATES

Jolie Kerr

So I guess we've totally given up on finding a cure for cancer and instead are directing our science dollars to studies that prove that people don't like being picked last in dodgeball. Okay! Good strategy I think!


@Jolie Kerr A worse strategy would be to have research psychologists try to find a cure for cancer.


@Jolie Kerr, I'd really, really hate to see all research funding reallocated to pursuing a single line of inquiry so let's not play the "this not cancer?!" game

tea tray in the sky.

@theinvisiblecunt Right? There's a reason people have options in university besides biological science!

Jolie Kerr

@theinvisiblecunt, Twinkle Little Bat: You guys need to fine tune your Jolie's Being Cheeky Meter!


@Jolie Kerr Ugh. Obviously, if scientists spent all their time curing cancer, they would never have time to research environment-safe alternatives to bleach and dryer sheets!


@Jolie Kerr, aww I get that it was a joke but I also hate hearing that, sry

tea tray in the sky.

@Jolie Kerr It was cheeky! Just hackneyed. Cheekneyed.


"the researchers' theory that it would suck to have this happen to you was proven accurate"

Right? Also, everything that the first 3 commenters said. It's not about man/lady jealousy, any kind of blatant and mysterious rejection like this would sting. Did they try it with same sex? Did they get the same results if the subject was not a straight lady?

Sydney C

If I had a bunch of money lying around, I would totally fund a study wherein we gathered up the authors of this study, the one that said women should settle for losers, the one that said women don't care about looks, and all those other misogynistic, pseudo-scientific studies made to portray women as weak, stuck up, or pathetic. Then we would have them sit down while beautiful, brilliant women thoroughly and systematically noted their every physical, emotional, and mental flaw and proceeded to belittle their accomplishments. Then I would record the results and publish the groundbreaking study that the men who dream up and fund experiments like this are extremely insecure and terrified of women. That's all.


@Sydney C I think some calipers and penile measurements should also be involved.

Jolie Kerr

@Sydney C I would help to fund this study. Let's set up a kickstarter?


@Sydney C To be fair, I'm guessing the sexist narrative in the article is much more Marie Claire reportage (good old Maura Kelly) and less a reflection of the actual study. If it's the group I think it is, one of its lead authors is in fact a woman!

Sydney C

@MollyculeTheory The book they linked to, which includes the study, has two men listed as the authors. But agreed about Maura Kelly and Marie Clare sucking!


@Sydney C

Here's a simpler study: Send an official-looking letter on NIH or university or foundation stationery telling all of these research psychologists that they have been awarded the Omnium Fellowship, a 10-year, fully funded research fellowship that comes with a tiered set of from $2.75 million to $8.25 million in project grants.

Then send them a questionnaire asking about how they felt when they first got the news and how they feel now that they know it's all a big fake!

Sydney C

@atipofthehat But that doesn't take gender into account at all! Maybe if we correlated the results with balding patterns and dick size?


@Jolie Kerr I would definitely fund this on Kickstarter. Another thing that I would fund on Kickstarter is a zine about how Marie Claire sucks, to be included as an insert with all Marie Claires.


This sounds less like a scientific study and more like one of those scenarios they do on ABC where John Quinones pops out at you and tells you you're on camera just before you punch someone in the face.


Wait wait, I have to know. DID THEY SOLVE THE PROBLEM?!?! God I hope they solved the problem.


How is this experiment different from middle school?


Her face literally dropped? Really? How does that even happen?
(I will never stop calling people on this. It figuratively drives me crazy.)


@TophBeiFong, I go out of my way to use this word hyperbolically all the time because sending pedants into a tizzy literally makes me die laughing


The first woman got dissed. Just sayin'


There's a name for people who do this kind of experiment and get paid for it: douche- nozzles. Amirite.

Jolie Kerr

@dabbyfanny "We resent the comparison." - Douche-nozzles of the World


Nonono we're calling them this now.


Oh, I think this offers nice perspective. Lots of times after you've been rejected you imagine that the person or company or whatever that rejected you was really cool. It's like a post hoc justification of why you feel so bad. This illustrates that rejection is inherently painful, even when the rejector is a completely random person you've only known for 10 minutes.


@blily the next time im rejected im going to assume it was all part of a scientific study.


@itsureiswindy And that the rejector was paid handsomely to do so, and s/he badly needed the money, and otherwise never would have insulted you, and is now pining madly for you, swimming in self-loathing and regret.



If The Jealousy Experiment isn't the title of the next Ginnifer Goodwin vehicle, I'll eat atipofthehat's hat.


Not sure if this is just me, but this doesn't sound like jealousy at all. Bewildered, rejected, hurt, pissed, betrayed, yes. Jealous? Not so much.


haa! and yes we could have "funded" this by just going to any middle school in america....it sucks...and i think i would of reacted the same way...a few groin kicks as well.

tea tray in the sky.

"Or she said nasty, scolding things to the other two. In other words, she got extremely jealous ... of a man she'd only spent a few minutes with."

I don't think the point was that she was supposed to be jealous of the MAN...?


@Twinkle Little Bat Ok, this is pedantic, but in the original sense, "jealous" meant possessive and "envious" meant wanting what someone else has. So technically I'd be jealous of my husband, and wary/angry/hateful, whatever, toward the slut in the steno pool, who has the great rack I envy. Not too many people bother with the distinction anymore, though, especially since there SHOULD be a name for the emotion you feel toward the person you think is your rival, and "envy" doesn't quite cut it.

tea tray in the sky.

"2: hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage
3: vigilant in guarding a possession " - Merriam-Webster's Dictionary

You're right! I never knew of that usage of the word before. Although if I were writing that article, I probably would've changed my wording for clarity. But thanks!

Hot mayonnaise

I saw this experiment on a video once. They make up and end up having a threesome.


"The only way this could be better is if notes fell from both the man and the second woman's pockets, and when you went to pick them up you saw they were covered in detailed descriptions of your physical flaws."

This whole thing blended two episodes of "Friends" in my head: when Rachel gets picked last for touch football and the episode where she finds "the list" Ross made, belittling her career, her character, and noting her cankles.


Even if this guy had no chance with lady No. 1, this is a blow to her confidence. Like a stranger saying "man, your face is just gross!" You might not even care what he/she thinks, but you may still care and wonder about whether this represents the average person's response to you. So I'm saying maybe jealousy isn't really the word. But it is rejection.

And also I wonder if they picked out women who've been cheated on in past relationships, just to add extra sting..


The classic New Cow Theory strikes again!

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