It turns out jealously really is “blinding,” according to a study by two psychology professors from the University of Delaware.
Steven Most and Jean-Philippe Laurenceau found that women who were made to feel jealous were so distracted by unpleasant and emotional images, they became unable to spot targets they were trying to find.
For the study, the professors tested heterosexual romantic couples in a laboratory setting. Women were asked to indentify pictures of landscapes amid rapid streams of images on a computer screen, while trying to ignore occasional gruesome or graphic images.
The men were then asked to rate the attractiveness of landscapes on their screen, and in the middle of the experiment, researchers switched gears and asked the men to rate the attractiveness of other single women.
At the end of the experiment, the females were asked how uneasy they felt about their partner rating other women's attractiveness. And what the professors found was the more jealous the women felt, the more they were unable to see the targets.
The researchers suggest their results reveal something profound about social relationships and perception.
The study was published in the April issue of the journal Emotion.