Envy: A Psychometric Refinement of the Construct

Casu, Giulia (2015) Envy: A Psychometric Refinement of the Construct, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze psicologiche, 27 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/6861.
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The noticeable differences in the theoretical and operative definitions of envy across studies and approaches have produced a fragmentary representation and understanding of the envious emotion. The present dissertation aimed to clarify the inherent nature of the construct of envy through the integration of findings from three independent studies. We focused on malicious envy, and investigated it from both a dispositional and an episodic perspective. Studies 1 and 2 investigated the dimensionality of envy as a stable individual characteristic and an episodic emotional state, respectively. In order to elicit episodic envy, a scenario-based experiment was conducted. Results indicated that, in both its dispositional and episodic facets, envy is a bidimensional construct composed by an inner-directed dimension of inferiority and helplessness, and an outer-directed dimension of feelings of anger and ill will. Moreover, findings from Study 1 allowed to establish boundaries between envy and competing constructs that have often been included in conceptualizations of envy. The psychometrically validated definition of envy provided by Studies 1 and 2 represents a valuable contribution to empirical research. Implications for envy research concern the promotion of a shared operationalization of envy in future studies, which will arguably facilitate the comparison of findings between studies and between approaches. Study 3 examined the mechanisms through which dispositional envy affects individuals’ social adjustment and psychological wellbeing. Findings revealed that the detrimental effects of envy on perceived social support and subjective well-being are mostly mediated by other personal characteristics, such as neuroticism and self-esteem. By reducing global self-esteem, the envious disposition may damage supportive social networks via antisocial direct and indirect behaviors that may arise from envy and that are likely to drive others away. On the other hand, by damaging both emotional stability and self-worth, dispositional envy leads to reduced subjective well-being. Implications for clinical practice are discussed.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Casu, Giulia
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze umanistiche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
malicious envy; dispositional envy; episodic envy; perceived social support; subjective well-being
Data di discussione
10 Aprile 2015

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