The emotion of envy and social comparison

Summer 2017

Kylie Li : Psychology

Donor: Pergo Fund
Mentor: Dacher Keltner

My research focuses on investigating the conditions that give rise to the emotion of envy both within individuals and within social groups. I am interested in how perceived social competition plays a role in determining the level of envy produced in both cases. As envy is a social comparative emotion that lies at the core of social hierarchy, I want to explore its dynamic and interrelated relationship within social structure (e.g. social class) in terms of how and why it arises as well as its consequences to the individuals and the society at large. I hope by situating basic emotion research within the larger social context, my project can shed some light into this important and yet insufficiently discussed issue. 

I really appreciate this opportunity made possible by the Pergo Fund. I was able to use part of the funding running pilot studies for my honors thesis this summer. These studies have allowed me to clarify and make revisions to my specific hypotheses, which has been one of the major challenges in carrying out my research project. I gained useful insights from the data collected that will be reflected in my honors thesis. This opportunity has strengthened my confidence in pursuing grad school and a further career in research. Being able to carry out my own project has also confirmed my interests in the the field of social psychology and the study of human emotions.