Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 January 2010
Sexual jealousy and mate retention behaviors
Jealousy is an emotional response generated by a threat to a valued relationship with another person, due to an actual or imagined rival (Dijkstra and Buunk, 2002). Jealousy, however, may become maladaptive when it causes distress in the jealous person or the target person and could be associated with behavioral problems observed not only in a psychiatric setting but also in a general social environment.
One of the most common forms of violence against women is that perpetrated by a husband or an intimate male partner (Wathen and MacMillan, 2003; Watts and Zimmerman, 2002). Research on intimate partner violence, often termed domestic violence, occurs in all countries, irrespective of social, economic, religious, or cultural group (WHO, 2002). Although women can be violent in relationships with men, the overwhelming majority of victims of partner violence are women (WHO, 2002). In 48 population-based surveys from around the world, between 10% and 69% of women were reported to be physically assaulted by an intimate male partner at some point in their lives (WHO, 2002). Although there are multiple risk factors for intimate partner violence such as poverty, alcohol consumption, and the social status of women, a key risk factor is the partner's jealousy (Jewkes, 2002; Kingham and Gordon, 2004). Expressions of male sexual jealousy historically may have been functional in deterring rivals from mate poaching (Schmitt and Buss, 2001) and in deterring a mate from committing a sexual infidelity or defecting permanently from the relationship (Buss, Larsen, Westen, and Semmelroth, 1992; Daly, Wilson, and Weghorst, 1982; Symons, 1979).