Jealousy changes with time—we envy what is to come more than we envy what has already happened. This, according to researchers at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

In the first phase of their study, researchers asked 620 participants to imagine a close friend living out the participant’s dream, such as buying their dream car. Some of these participants imagined how they would feel in the days leading up to the event and others imagined how they would feel in the days after the event.

The research team saw that participants rated the experience as less enviable after the event occurred, even in this hypothetical scenario.

In another experiment, researchers assessed envy over a friend’s Valentine’s Day date every day of February. They say that envy grew as February 14th approached, dropped on the 15th, and remained low the rest of the month.

This study demonstrates that jealousy is greater leading up to an event and diminishes soon after the event takes place.


Kristal, A. C., O’Brien, E., & Caruso, E. M. (2019, April 8). Yesterday’s News: A Temporal Discontinuity in the Sting of Inferiority. Psychological Science. Retrieved from