Jealousy is a young person's game

January 07, 2015, 2:48 PM GMT+0

Younger Americans are much more jealous than their elders, while most people are OK with their partner making a new friend of the opposite sex

A new book by Canadian professor Peter Toohey, Jealousy, argues that this oft-maligned emotion may actually be behind many of our best cultural works and may even have inspired a significant part of our legal system. Toohey is careful to draw a distinction between envy, wanting what you do not have, and jealousy, guarding what you currently possess. In everyday life jealousy is most often experienced as a part of romantic relationships, as people worry that their partners may not always be as faithful as they would hope. 

YouGov's latest research shows that younger Americans are much more likely to say that they're jealous when it comes to romantic partners. Overall 31% of Americans say that they're jealous people, but this varies from 42% of under-30s to only 19% of over-65s. 

Most Americans are fine with their partner or spouse making a friend of the opposite gender, but a significant minority say that they would be upset by it. 18% of women say that they'd be upset if their partner or spouse made friends with another woman, while 19% of men say that they'd be upset if their partner or spouse made friends with another man, indicating little difference between genders on this question. 

Men are more likely than women, however, to say that playfully flirting with others without intent to pursue anything is an acceptable part of a relationship. 34% of men say that it's OK to do this, compared to 25% of women. Overall 53% of Americans say that they think that playful flirting is unacceptable when you're in a relationship. 

Full poll results can be found here.