The impact of envy-related behaviors on development

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14 January 2014

Envy is a complex emotion that influences the behavior of envious and envied individuals. Because envy can imply ill will, discontent or dislike of the envied individual who possesses something that the envious individual desires, or aspiration to emulate the envied position, it can lead the envious individual to undertake costly efforts to reduce the gap between the envied situation and his own situation. The envious individual can seek either to damage or match the situation enjoyed by the envied individual. In return, the envied individual can adopt either envy-appeasing strategies or envy-arousing strategies. We argue that these costly envy-related behaviors impede or stimulate economic development.