Envy may play an important role in what the brain gives most attention to, as well as one’s memory. One experiences envy as an intricate blend of distasteful psychological states such as inferiority, injustice, and resentment. These emotions are generally hidden due to the fact that we don’t tend to show facial expressions that express our envy of someone or something.

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Envy may, in some situations, be a motivation to improve oneself. However others have pointed out that envy can trigger feelings of resentment. According to the authors of a study on The Cognitive Consequences of Envy, envy may very well evoke a functionally coordinated flow of cognitions; each of which may render the individual better able to retain information on the envied person.

Applied in a work environment, this may lead to jealous colleagues to strive to improve and better themselves. There are follow-up questions to this trail of thought. Can you employ the negative envious thoughts to good use? Are you capable of controlling cognitive processes to generate productive outcomes?

Certainly the identification of feelings and potential triggers, such as motivation or resentment, that one can expect from a candidate are two very valuable pieces of information at selection stage. This is particularly true when the interviewer has an intimate knowledge of the team members and dynamics that the prospective candidate would be joining.

Hill, S.E., DelPriore, D.J., Vaughan, P.W.: The cognitive consequences of envy: Attention, memory, and self-regulatory depletion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 101, 653-666 (2011)

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