There are several levels of jealousy. Unhealthy jealousies in relationships or friendship are related to one’s own insecurity and betray a low self-esteem, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). But without going to that extreme, there is a level of healthy and even necessary jealousy, the scientists say.
A group of researchers from Columbia University, in the USA. He found through an experiment, the brain area where jealousy is lodged and described the role they play in relationships.
According to their findings, when someone experiences jealousy, two brain areas are activated: one is the septum pellucidum, a key area in the emotional processes and responses to stress, and the other, the cingulate gyrus, an area related to social pain and that is usually activated when a person feels emotionally rejected by their loved ones.
What role does jealousy play in romantic relationships? These could play an important role in a lasting relationship: they are necessary to maintain the union, the scientists say. And this happens at an evolutionary level from the origins of the species.
Monogamy and jealousy
To carry out this study -published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution- the behavior of marmosets, which are known for their monogamous system, was examined. They choose a couple and keep it throughout their lives, with which they have offspring, share territory, and are very jealous to share it. The male monkeys of this race were subjected to a series of brain scans and then induced into a situation of jealousy.
On the other hand, they also took brain scans of male monkeys without being exposed to a situation of jealousy, to then be able to compare them. Then the blood analysis data were added to measure the hormonal changes, and it was observed that jealousy causes several biological changes that cannot be ignored.
In addition to the brain changes that were visualized in the images, jealousy also caused an increase in levels in the hormones testosterone (key in male sexuality) and cortisol (leveling stress).
They cause biological changes
If jealousy can “feel” at the brain level and cause hormonal changes, this would explain in part why many people cannot handle this feeling. The research indicates that in marmosets, not only are regions of the brain involved in jealousy, but these in turn play a key role in maintaining the bond between partners, said Karen Bales, the principal investigator.
Scientists believe that the findings are applicable to humans, since their brains and behaviors regarding the monogamy system are similar, and help to understand how jealousy influences the brain. Bales estimates that the work could help explain why there are many people who continue with their partner even though they are very jealous.
“The neurobiology of bonding couples is fundamental to understanding how monogamy evolved and how it remains a social system,” Bales told ABC.
But how can jealousy help keep the union? Linking with a couple can be located in areas of the brain connected to social memory and reward, the scientists explained, and the connection of jealousy with these regions indicates that emotion can help strengthen the bond.
In conclusion, the fact that someone is on the alert with their partner against ‘threats’ from other applicants, may simply be the way in which evolution keeps couples together.