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The Green Eyed Monster: Linguistic Influences on Concepts of Envy and Jealousy in Russian and English

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The present study examined linguistic relativity in the domain of emotion terms. Exp. 1 showed that American English speakers use the word "jealous" to describe both situations involving envy and those involving jealousy, whereas Russian speakers describe emotions involved in the situations using the Russian terms revnuet and zaviduet in a mutually exclusive manner. Bilinguals performed according to the language they were tested in. In Experiment 2 we sought evidence for conceptual consequences of the difference in how emotion terms mapped onto situations for English and Russian speakers. In a non-linguistic triad sorting task, all subjects clearly distinguished jealousy situations from envy situations, but monolingual English speakers and bilinguals were more likely to see envy situations and jealousy situations as similar than Russian speakers. In a free sorting task, high agreement across all groups was shown in sorting jealousy, envy and control situations. However, native Russian speakers, in contrast to native English speakers, labeled the groups in a mutually-exclusive way. While providing some evidence for the weak view of linguistic relativity, overall the study shows that despite the difference in labeling the emotions of jealousy and envy, Russian speakers, English speakers and bilinguals are very similar in how they conceptualize emotionally-laden situations.


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