Jealousy, general creativity, and coping with social frustration during the menstrual cycle

Arch Sex Behav. 1996 Apr;25(2):181-99. doi: 10.1007/BF02437935.


Sensitivity to feelings of jealousy in women (n = 16) at three phases of their menstrual cycle differing in serum hormone concentrations (menses, preovulatory phase, midluteal phase) was investigated. Nonspecific electrodermal activity indicating sympathetic excitation was measured while subjects listened to stories and imagined situations inducing (i) nonsexual jealousy (the partner forms a deep emotional attachment to another woman), (ii) sexual jealousy (the partner has sexual intercourse with another woman), and (iii) no jealousy (social interaction lacking intense emotionality). Subjective ratings of the intensity of jealousy during both stories of jealousy were also assessed. In addition, changes in cognitive coping abilities, in general, and in the context of socially frustrating events, were assessed by tests of divergent thinking (creativity) and the Rosenzweig Picture Frustration Test. Frequency of nonspecific electrodermal reactions was generally enhanced during the preovulatory phase. This increase was particularly strong when the women listened to stories inducing nonsexual jealousy, i.e., a story characterized by cues of a complete loss of the partner's investment. Rated jealousy tended to be enhanced during the ovulatory phase, especially after the story of nonsexual jealousy. These changes in emotionality were paralleled by an improved divergent thinking performance and less aggressive coping with socially frustrating events around the time of ovulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Creativity*
  • Female
  • Frustration*
  • Humans
  • Menstrual Cycle*
  • Menstruation / psychology*
  • Psychological Tests