Personality, birth order and attachment styles as related to various types of jealousy

Abraham (Bram) Buunk

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The relationships between jealousy, personality, attachment styles and birth order were examined in a sample of 100 Dutch men and 100 Dutch women. Three types of jealousy were examined: reactive jealousy (a negative response to the emotional or sexual involvement of the partner with someone else), preventive jealousy (efforts to prevent intimate contact of the partner with a third person), and anxious jealousy (obsessive anxiety, upset, and worrying about the possibility of infidelity of the partner). The three types of jealousy were not at all related to egoism and dominance, but significantly correlated with neuroticism, social anxiety, rigidity and hostility. Only among women was a low;self-esteem correlated with jealousy. On all three jealousy measures, those with an anxious-ambivalent attachment style were more jealous than those with an avoidant style, with those with a secure attachment style being the least jealous. Attachment style was strongly related to most personality dimensions, but the effects of attachment style upon jealousy stayed virtually the same when controlling for personality factors. The most important finding in the present study was that laterborns were more jealous according to all three measures than firstborns, a finding that was not due to personality differences between first-and laterborns, nor to differences in attachment style, gender or occupational level of the father. Because some evidence was found that only borns were slightly less jealous than firstborns, it is suggested that the experience of exclusive love and attention in one's childhood, leads to a lower level of jealousy among firstborns. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)997-1006
Number of pages10
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec-1997


  • jealousy
  • attachment styles
  • birth order
  • personality

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