The effect of attainability on envy

Yumi Inoue, Koji Murata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Envy is an unpleasant emotion caused by comparison with a person who possesses something we desire. We conducted two studies to test our prediction that less envy would be felt when the person could attain what others had. In Study 1, participants read scenarios in which their friend could achieve a goal which they could not, and rated their emotions toward the friend. We manipulated the attainability according to whether the goal could be achieved by effort. In Study 2, participants competed with a confederate, and were informed that their performance was worse than that of the confederate. Afterwards the attainability was manipulated by either informing the participants that the possibility of improving their ability was very low or high. Then participants rated their emotions toward the confederate, and we also checked whether the participants had helped the confederate. As predicted, our findings demonstrated that those in the high attainability condition felt envy less than those in the low attainability condition, but showed no significant differences in helping behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalShinrigaku Kenkyu
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Attainability
  • Envy
  • Self-evaluation
  • Social comparison


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