Positively jealous people buy iPhones

Washington: Being jealous also has two facets - if you are jealous in a benign way, you might tend towards buying an iPhone - but if you are experiencing feelings of malicious envy, chances are you will end up with a Blackberry, according to a new study.

"Our studies showed that people who had been made envious of someone who owned an iPhone were willing to pay 80 Euros more on average," wrote authors Niels van de Ven, Marcel Zeelenberg, and Rik Pieters of the Tilburg University.

The researchers made some important discoveries about the motivations that result from different kinds of envy.

"Note that two types of envy exist: benign and malicious envy.

"Benign envy exists if the advantage of the other person is deserved, and motivates people to attain a coveted good or position for themselves. This more motivating type of envy makes people pay an envy premium for the products that elicited their envy," wrote the authors.

On the other hand, malicious envy occurs if the other person is thought to be undeserving; it evokes a desire to "pull down" the other person.

In a series of experiments, the authors compared benign envy with its malicious cousin.

They found that only benignly envious people were willing to pay more for products that they coveted. Maliciously envious people were more likely to pay more for related but different products.

For example, people who felt maliciously envious of someone with an iPhone were more likely to pay more for a BlackBerry.

In the experiments, the participants were asked to imagine feeling jealousy and admiration for the fellow student (Benign Envy condition), to imagine feeling jealous and begrudging (the Malicious Envy condition), or just to imagine that they really liked the product (Control condition).

However, companies should be cautious to not evoke the more negative form of envy that drives people away from products.

"Advertisers should make sure that the celebrities they want to use in their ads actually deserve their status.

"If they do not, these celebrities might actually trigger malicious envy and the sales of products from a competitor could even go up," wrote the authors.

The findings were published in the Journal of Consumer Research.