On the Pleasures and Displeasures of Being Envied

W. Gerrod Parrott and Patricia M. Rodriguez Mosquera

in Envy

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780195327953
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199301485 | DOI:
On the Pleasures and Displeasures of Being Envied

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This chapter addresses the many variables influencing the situation facing the envied person. One set of influences involves the object of the envy: Does the envied person deserve their advantage; does the advantage have the “zero-sum” quality of being available to only one person? Another set of influences concerns the envied person's social strategies: Is the advantage flaunted or concealed?; are the feelings of the envious person assuaged or exacerbated? The reaction of the envied person may also be influenced by stable psychological dispositions, such as enviousness, fear of success, and attitudes toward status and competition. Finally, cultural values should influence responses to being envied. For example, the cultural importance of achievement and success should influence how much people experience the envy of others as positive and as conferring status. In addressing these issues, the chapter draws on three main resources. First, it draws on the now considerable information about the nature of envy that is reflected in the other chapters of this volume. Second, it draws on scholarship about ancient Greek writings about envy; a rich source of thought about the perspective of the person who is the target of envy, which can be compared to modern research and analyses. Third, it discusses findings from research on the emotional and relational consequences of success.

Keywords: envy; envied person; cultural values; psychological disposition

Chapter.  8266 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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