The Constructive and Destructive Consequences of Job Search Envy: A Process Model



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Although existing research proposed a wide range of negative adaptive reactions in the envy process, emerging evidence demonstrates that envy emotion can also be functional. Drawing upon the social-functional perspective of envy, I provide and test a model that explains the conditions under which envious people engage in constructive behavior while also engaging in emotion-focused reactions in a job search context. In this paper, I contend that job seekers who have a hard time in the job search process compared to their peers will be more likely to feel envy. I also suggest that envy motivates people to engage in self-improvement to reduce the perceived gap in job search success, but also motivates them to self-isolate to maintain their positive self-views. Moreover, the envy emotion will be exacerbated when they receive less social support or have low core self-evaluation (CSE). To test the proposed model, I conducted weekly surveys of 224 Korean undergraduate job seekers for five consecutive weeks. Results indicated that people tend to feel envy and engage in more self-improvement and more self-isolation when their job search progress is falling behind. Additionally, I found that people with low core self-evaluation display less self-improvement effort and more self-isolation when they feel envy in the social comparison process. However, social support was not relevant to the envy process. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.



Envy, Self-improvement, Self-isolation, Core self-evaluation