The Longitudinal Stability of Jealousy in Infancy


  • Melannie Pineda Department of Psychology Florida Atlantic University
  • Nancy Jones


Infancy, Development, Jealousy, Mother-Infant Interactions, Parent-Infant Bonding, Approach-Withdrawal


Whether the emergence of jealousy responses occurs before or after the second year of life has been an ongoing debate. When the bond that exists between themselves and their mothers is threatened, previous studies have shown that infants will respond in a manner that is suggestive of expressions of jealousy (Hart & Carrington, 2002; Blau, 2010; Mize 2008). However, true jealousy responses are not expected to arise before 15 to 24 months, which is believed to be the time when infants achieve a full understanding of interpersonal relationships (Lewis, 2003). Recent studies on jealousy in infancy have shown that infants typically respond with increased negativity, reactivity and approach behaviors (gaze and reach) during a jealousy-evocation paradigm and that these behaviors remain stable over time (Blau 2010; Hart 2010). The current examines the longitudinal stability of jealousy in a sample of 10 infants. Behavioral responses to jealousy evocation were collected when infants were approximately 9 months and 12 months old. We expected that jealousy responses, specifically approach behavior would be more apparent in the doll condition and would increase in intensity with increasing age. At 9 months, there were no differences in responses across conditions except for affect. Infants at this age expressed more negative affect in the doll condition which is consistent with previous research. At 12 months, there were no differences in responses across conditions. MANOVAs comparing affect, vocalizations and touch across age, type of response and condition, revealed that infants demonstrate increased negative affect, negative vocalizations and decreased attempts at physical contact with mothers regardless of age and condition.