Symbolic Means of Coping with Envy

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In greater or lesser degrees envy is present in all individuals, and the fear of its consequences, along with culturally prescribed means of coping with them, are found among all or nearly all peoples. The means may include sharing but also a wide variety of beliefs and practices that deflect, reduce, or deny envy. For example, widespread beliefs in the "evil eye" (and its analogs) discourage individuals from flaunting their good fortune that might elicit the evil eye from envious others. Tipping is interpreted as a means whereby the relatively well-to-do deflect the envy of those who serve them. The origins of symbolic means of coping with envy do not show up in the archaeological record. Clearly envy occurs among nonhuman primates.

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