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Anticipated Envy

 

Explanations > Thinking > Anticipated Envy

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

 

Description

When we think about the future, we often think about others and what they may gain. Continuing this daydream, we then imagine how we would feel about this. If we imagine feeling envious, then our experiencing this negative emotion in the present can affect our decisions. It can also lead us to think less of the person in question, even though the future event has not happened.

Example

An actor is unfriendly towards another actor as the imagine the other person being awarded an Oscar.

A child bullies another because they think the other child may get higher marks in a test. 

Discussion

Our tribal evolution mass made us a very status-conscious species. Those higher up the hierarchy are more likely to get better food, mates and general influence. We cannot help but pay attention to status.

We like to think well of ourselves, and attribute successes to our ability. When we fail, we defend our egos by blaming the situation or other people. Our envy reverses this when we think about others, where we attribute their success to luck or cheating, and their failures to incompetence.

In this combination of attribution of status concern and attribution, anticipated envy is an easy step as we think about the future.

So what?

Beware of envy driving inappropriate actions. You can, however, provoke others by stimulating envious thoughts.

See also

Envy, Jealousy, Status, Attribution Theory

 

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