Jealousy is a pretty universal emotion, as much as we hate to admit it. It’s so widespread that 79 percent of women and 74 percent of men admitted to feeling envious, according to a new study from the University of California, San Diego. But it seems those feelings of ill-will decline as we get older, researchers found. And what turns us green seems to change, too.
To get the scoop on this negative emotion, researchers surveyed 900 people ages 18 to 80. Eighty percent of those under 30 reported feeling jealous of friends or family members in the past year; by age 50, that number had declined to 69 percent.
What triggered envy morphed over time, too. Looks and romance topped the list for younger folks; another person’s career and financial success were the things those over 30 coveted. The most astonishing finding of all: People felt jealous toward those of their own gender–and those closest in age.
“Even in domains like financial and occupational success, where you can imagine that a woman might envy a man his better pay or status, that wasn’t usually the case,” said UC San Diego psychology professor Christine Harris, co-author of the study.
The fact that envy diminishes with time is the good news about aging, she added. And that’s even better news for your health. The less you compare yourself to others, the happier you’ll be.