Comprehending envy

Richard H. Smith, Sung Hee Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

668 Scopus citations


The authors reviewed the psychological research on envy. The authors examined definitional challenges associated with studying envy, such as the important distinction between envy proper (which contains hostile feelings) and benign envy (which is free of hostile feelings). The authors concluded that envy is reasonably defined as an unpleasant, often painful emotion characterized by feelings of inferiority, hostility, and resentment caused by an awareness of a desired attribute enjoyed by another person or group of persons. The authors examined questions such as why people envy, why envy contains hostile feelings, and why it has a tendency to transmute itself. Finally, the authors considered the role of envy in helping understand other research domains and discussed ways in which people cope with the emotion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-64
Number of pages19
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Envy
  • Social comparison
  • Social emotions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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