Keywords:jealousy, infidelity, emotion, evolution, mate retention
AbstractSexual jealousy is a basic emotion. Although it lacks a distinctive facial expression and is unlikely to solve problems of survival, it evolved because it solves adaptive problems of mating. Some adaptive functions are similar in men and women at one level of abstraction, such as warding off potential mate poachers and deterring relationship defection. Other functions are sex-differentiated, such as increasing paternity probability for men and monopolizing a mate's economic commitments for women. Dozens of studies have documented sex-differentiated design features of jealousy: The relative upset about sexual and emotional aspects of infidelity; processing speed and memorial recall of sexual and emotional infidelity cues; physiological distress to sexual and emotional infidelity cues; qualities of same-sex rivals that evoke jealousy, such as superior job prospects versus greater physical attractiveness; triggers of mate retention tactics; jealous interrogations following the discovery of infidelity; and whether an infidelity produces forgiveness or breakup. Although showing all the hallmarks of evolved functionality, sexual jealousy also leads to tremendous destruction, from humiliation to homicide. By these scientific theoretical and empirical criteria, sexual jealousy is properly considered not only "basic" but also "one of the most important emotions".