Nancy Cavlovic is dealing with jealousy. Fortunately for her, the jealousy isn't hers.
Cavlovic, a Kansas City, Kan., senior at Kansas University, is conducting a study to find out how jealousy affects relationships. She received a $250 research grant for the spring semester.
"My hypothesis is that people in close relationships will score higher in jealousy than if the relationship is more casual," Cavlovic said. "I'll also measure how much of a potential threat jealousy poses to a relationship."
About 50 males and 50 females currently in a relationship watch a video that Cavlovic, her boyfriend and friends made. The video shows a couple flirting at a party, and research participants are supposed to visualize their partner in the situation. In addition, half of the research participants are supposed to pretend the person their "mates" are flirting with is a friend and the other half are supposed to imagine that the person is a stranger, Cavlovic said.
BEFORE watching the video, participants fill out questionnaires designed to measure closeness, loving and liking, insecurity and dependence, and jealousy, she said.
After the video, it's test time again as the participants answer questions designed to determine whether the flirting angered them, Cavlovic said. She also asks them respond to questions about former relationships.
"If people have been cheated on before, it makes them more skeptical and might affect their trust," she said.
The rest of the process belongs solely to Cavlovic. She almost is ready to crunch numbers and analyze data, she said, and she plans to begin writing in a few weeks. Already she is noticing a trend.
"I'VE FOUND that females think that the female is being more flirtatious and the males think that the male is more flirtatious," she said. "They don't blame their partner. I can't say whether it's significant yet, and I can't verify it, but it's a small trend I see."
Two participants who went through the study sounded confident that jealousy was not part of their relationships, however, and had a hard time relating to the video.
"I just don't think that happens if people are in a healthy relationship," said Amy Wolf, Denver freshman.
Geoff Jennings, Fairway junior, said he didn't feel as if he fit the study's subject-profile.
"I'M 23, and I'm dating someone who is 26 and out of college," he said. "I think the study leaned toward relationships in an unsteady environment like college, where you're going to school with 13,000 people of the opposite sex."