High Achievers More Prone to Jealousy on Facebook

social media, price
(Image credit: 1000 Words / Shutterstock.com image via Shutterstock)

People who are high-achieving in academics may be more prone to feelings of romantic jealousy than those who are less studious, new research suggests.

In several studies of undergraduate students, researchers found that the higher a student's grade point average (GPA), the greater their levels of "Facebook jealousy" were.

There's no one definition of Facebook jealousy, but it's sometimes referred to as a phenomenon in which misunderstandings on the social network lead to jealousy among people in romantic relationships.

Participants were asked to envision several hypothetical scenarios, such as discovering a message in their partner's Facebook inbox from a person of the opposite sex that reads "What are you up to later?" (An intentionally ambiguous message.)

Women had higher levels of Facebook jealousy than men, a finding that confirms research from earlier studies. [See: Busted! 6 Gender Myths in the Bedroom & Beyond].

The findings regarding GPA are preliminary, and the researchers still need to tease out the reason for the possible link, said study researcher Denise Friedman, an associate professor of psychology at Roanoke College in Salem, Va.

But it may be that people with high GPAs tend to have a personality type that makes them more prone to jealousy.

"Students with higher GPAs are often more conscientious, show greater self-control and tend to be perfectionistic," Friedman said. "The perceived infidelity likely upsets their attempts at perfection across the board."

The researchers also tested whether adding different emoticons (such as symbols of smiley or winking faces) after the ambiguous message would affect jealousy levels. While adding a winking emoticon had no effect on women's jealousy level, men were more jealous when the message had a winking emoticon, as opposed to no emoticon.

"Evolutionary work suggests men are more jealous of sexual infidelity, while women are more jealous of emotional infidelity," Friedman said. "The winking emoticon was most likely perceived as flirtatious, perhaps even sexually suggestive, which may explain why men were more jealous in this condition," she said.

The researchers plan to publish their findings in a peer-reviewed journal this summer. Some of the findings were presented at the Association for Psychology Science meeting in May.

Follow Rachael Rettner @RachaelRettnerFollow LiveScience @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.

Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.