Envy and its consequences: Why it is useful to distinguish between benign and malicious envy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Envy is the pain that arises from the good fortune of others. Recent research identified two subtypes of envy, benign and malicious envy. Malicious envy is the envy subtype with action tendencies aimed to pull down the envied person from their superior position. Benign envy is also a frustrating experience, but activates action tendencies aimed at improving oneself. This article provides an overview of the empirical support for making this distinction in envy subtypes. It then discusses the benefits of a subtype approach to envy, with the main advantages of distinguishing benign and malicious envy being that it (a) provides researchers with the language to be clear in how they conceptualize envy and (b) allows novel predictions. A next section provides a response to some criticism on making this distinction. Finally, I conclude with a section on how envy in general, and benign and malicious envy in particular, could be measured.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-349
JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


Cite this