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The Communication of Jealousy


Jennifer L. Bevan

This book won the 2014 National Communication Association’s Diamond Anniversary Book Award

This book received the 2014 Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Book Award from the «Interpersonal Communication Division of the National Communication Association» and the «National Communication Association – Communication and Social Cognition Division – 2013 Distinguished Book Award»

Informed by a wide variety of academic disciplines and offering a unique interpersonal communication approach to the study of jealousy, The Communication of Jealousy examines, integrates, and informs research on jealousy experience and expression. The book’s integration and interpretation of academic jealousy research is through a jealousy expression lens, meaning that the focus will be particularly, but not exclusively, on jealousy research that includes a behavioral or communicative component that is drawn from a number of academic disciplines as diverse as communication, social and clinical psychology, sociology, criminology, forensic anthropology, and the biological sciences. To date, no academic book has considered jealousy primarily from an interpersonal communication perspective; in doing so, this book effectively connects jealousy research from related academic disciplines and develops a theory that advances the state of jealousy expression research.
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Chapter One. Introduction: Jealousy Definitions and Models


The Greek root of the word “jealous” is zelos, which is an intense and passionate ardor about something. The notion that jealousy is rooted in a word that can be either constructive or destructive, depending upon the situation or context, illustrates the inherently complex nature of this unique interpersonal experience. And, as with any complicated human experience, artists have been inspired to depict and explore jealousy throughout history. These artistic efforts have taken visual form, such as Edvard Munch’s many painted renderings of jealousy, as well as been musical in nature, such as John Lennon’s Jealous Guy, where he sings about his fear, anxiety, and physical loss of control when thinking about losing his wife, Yoko Ono, to a rival. And these creative renderings of jealousy have also emerged in written literature, most notably in William Shakespeare’s dramatic portrayals of jealousy in Othello, The Merchant of Venice, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Though humans have undoubtedly experienced and expressed jealousy as long as they have shared relationships with one another, it is only in the past three decades that there has been concerted scholarly interest across academic disciplines, including communication; social, developmental, and evolutionary psychology; family studies; anthropology; the forensic sciences; and sociology, in unraveling the nature of jealousy. Jealousy has received significant clinical attention as well, with marital and family therapists reporting that it is at least a minor issue for two-thirds, and a major issue for one-quarter, of their clients (White, 2008). However, despite its prevalence...

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