February 14th, 2015| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


A new study of dog behavior showed that jealousy isn’t a trait unique to humans. Dogs vying for the attention of their owners showcase behaviors that suggest jealousy is a strong motivating factor in these animals! Who knew!

Christine Harris and Caroline Prouvost from the University of California San Diego, in PLOSone last year, published “Jealousy in Dogs.”

Generally, it is held by social scientists that jealousy evolved as a result of threats to relationships. A seems to like B, more than A seems to like C, so C gets jealous. Jealousy “evolved to secure resources … in any of a wide-range of valued relationships.” Supposedly primeval jealousy occurred in the context of two siblings competing for the affection, attention, and care of a parent: Am I loved? Will I be cared for? Will I be fed? Etc. Or, they think, such behaviors arose to protect paired individuals in sexual relationships from interlopers threatening that union. In any case, jealousy induces a motivation in C to restore the relationship with A and remove the usurper, B.

In sum, jealousy = one not wanting another to have what one has. (Envy = one wanting what another has.)

Earlier studies have shown that even 6-month old children show behaviors that are almost like jealousy, when their mothers attended to another infant (actually a realistic doll), but not when they attend to, say, a book.

Now we see it … in dogs.

Thirty-six dogs were videotaped as their owners ignored them and, instead, interacted with either a mechanical dog (that could bark and wag its tail) or a non-dog item (a jack-o-lantern pail). The subjects were then analysed for their aggressive and/or attention-seeking behavior. Over a fourth of the canines objected vehemently to the presence of a dog-like object, by snapping, getting between the owner and the “dog,” pushing the owner or the “dog,” etc. But hardly any of the animals protested over the owner’s engrossment with a pail.

Quoth Harris:

Our study suggests not only that dogs do engage in what appear to be jealous behaviors but also that they were seeking to break up the connection between the owner and a seeming rival. We can’t really speak to the dogs’ subjective experiences, of course, but it looks as though they were motivated to protect an important social relationship.”

Whatever scholars think about its origins and evolutionary utility, the Bible calls jealousy “sin.” James had some pretty harsh words to say against it.

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart,
do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.
This wisdom is not that which comes down from above,
but is earthly, natural, demonic.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every evil thing.
James 3:14–16

BTW, if you weren’t aware of it, jealousy is the third leading cause of intentional homicide, all over the world!

Paul wasn’t for it, either, ranking jealousy among the deeds of the incorrigibly evil flesh.

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:
immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife,
jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying,
drunkenness, carousing, and things like these,
of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you,
that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19–21

Loss of reward!

Instead, …

… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Galatians 5:22–23

And, of course, there’s this …

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous ….
1 Corinthians 13:4

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