Young people are more likely to envy someone who is approximately their own age and are especially envious of the same gender than older adults, revealed a new study. The study was published in the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology.
"Envy can be a powerful emotion. Christian tradition even has it identified as one of the seven deadly sins. We wanted to investigate envy not only because it is subjectively experienced as negative but also because it has been suggested as motivation for a whole host of events, from fairy-tale murder to, in modern times, the force behind the Occupy Wall Street movement," said Dr. Christine Harris, coauthor of the study with graduate student Nicole Henniger, University of California.
‘Women more likely to be envious than men. Physical appearance, romance, monetary and occupational success were the most common domains for envy among the youngsters.’
They performed two studies where one survey was done in more than 900 people aged 18 to 80 on their own experiences of being envious and another that asked 800 more in the same age range to remember when they had been the targets of envy.
The authors found that more than three fourths of all study participants reported experiencing envy in the last year. Of which women were 79.4 percent and men were 74.1 percent.
80% of people younger than 30 were feeling envious than older adults (69%). Also, people most often direct their envy at similarly aged others; within about five years of their own age.
"It surprised us how consistently men envied other men and women other women. Even in domains like financial and occupational success, where you can imagine that a woman might envy a man his better pay or status, that wasn't usually the case," said Harris.
Young people reported more frequently feeling envious over looks and romance as well as achievement at school and social success. 40 percent of participants under 30 said they envied others for their success in romance while fewer than 15 percent of those over 50 said the same.
"Envy of monetary success and occupational success was common across all age groups. But these two domains were unique in being more often envied by older people. The categories of "luck" and "other" didn't vary with age," they said.