Melanie Griffith schmoozes Sigourney Weaver to get to the top in Working Girl.

London - It will probably come as little surprise to any office worker who has taken part in a gossip session around the watercooler.

Women are likely to be plagued with jealousy towards a work rival if she is attractive and gets on well with male colleagues, researchers claim.

Men, on the other hand, do not feel threatened by good-looking chaps – but are just as likely as women to envy rivals with good social skills.

A team of Spanish, Dutch and Argentine researchers used questionnaires to analyse “intrasexual rivalry” in the workplace – or in other words, how well employees get on with colleagues of the same sex.

Their results revealed that sexual competition causes more jealousy in women, but office rivals with good interpersonal skills are likely to provoke professional envy in both sexes.

Professor Rosario Zurriaga, of the University of Valencia in Spain, said: “This result shows the importance of social skills in work environments. Women with a high level of intrasexual competition are more jealous if the rival is more attractive and envious if the rival is more powerful and dominating.”

The study, which also involved researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and the University of Palermo in Argentina, looked at 200 men and women from across a range of professions with an average age of 36. - Daily Mail