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Gender Differences in Attitudes towards Sexual Infidelity

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Introduction

Gender Differences in Attitudes towards Sexual Infidelity Rajat Passy Liverpool Hope University College Hope Park Liverpool, L16 9JD Email: [email protected] ABSTRACT A questionnaire-based study was carried out to determine whether there is a relationship between gender and attitude type, (positive or negative), towards sexual infidelity. Gender differences in attitudes were observed and measured using a Likert scale. Following an evolutionary model (Buss, 1992), it was hypothesized that males would have a more positive attitude towards infidelity when placed in the position of the perpetrator of the infidelity whereas females would have a more negative attitude towards sexual infidelity. Findings were consistent with evolutionary hypotheses. Males scored more positively (n=30, M=26.93, SD = 7.34) than females (n=30, M=17.93, SD = 5.31). An independent samples t-test resulted in a statistically significant difference between the two samples of gender (t = 5.439, DF = 58, p < 0.001). A discrepancy was identified as men; although they feel more distressed by their mate's sexual infidelity than emotional infidelity, are more permissive of sexual infidelity when placed in the position of the perpetrator. Implications and limitations of the present findings are discussed. Contents 1. Introduction .................... Page 3 2. Method .................... Page 5 3. Results .................... Page 7 4. Discussion .................... Page 9 5. Acknowledgements .................... Page 11 6. References .................... Page 11 7. Appendix A - Administered Questionnaire .................... Page 14 8. Appendix B - Full Results .................... Page 17 9. Appendix C - Graphical Representation .................... Page 19 10. Appendix D - Raw Data Spreadsheet .................... Page 20 INTRODUCTION For many years, evolutionary psychology has studied interpersonal relationship issues to great depths (DeSteno, Bartlett, Saloey, & Braverman, 2002; Grice & Seely, 2000; Wiedermann & Kendall, 1999). The evolutionary model suggests biological influences as a basis of gender difference, without rejecting social forces as a factor in shaping relationship strategies, especially infidelity (Symons, 1979 cited in Cann, 2001). ...read more.

Middle

This means that, assuming the null hypothesis to be true, the chance of obtaining a t-value of 5.439 was less than 0.1%. The confidence interval showed that the population mean difference is likely (95%) to be found between the range of 5.688 and 12.312. An initial Mann-Whitney U test was also conducted, details of which are included in Appendix C. DISCUSSION The results clearly showed males having a positive preference for unfaithful behaviour in contrast to the females. Therefore, it was concluded that there is a significant difference among males' and females' attitudes towards infidelity when placed in the position of the perpetrator. The evidence for gender differences (consistent with the evolutionary model) continues to accumulate with the results from the present investigation. Males show a more condoning attitude towards sexual infidelity for their personal sexual freedom and females show a less accepting attitude -an attitude which does not condone sexual freedom for them. Significance Infidelity has always been an important theoretical and practical issue. From an evolutionary perspective, infidelity hints at the diversion of important reproductive resources (Buss et al. 1992; Buss & Shakelford, 1997 cited in Shackelford, LeBlanc & Drass, 2000). From an equity perspective (Walster, Walster & Perscheid, 1978 cited in Schutzwohl & Koch, 2004) infidelity signals inequities and discrimination in a relationship. From an investment model perspective (Rusbult, 1980 cited in Shackelford, LeBlanc & Drass, 2000) infidelity indicates lack of commitment to a relationship. In brief, any theory of romantic relationships places great importance to the issue of infidelity. However, most of the research on infidelity, to date, has focussed on sex differences in response to emotional and sexual infidelity because of the seriousness of their consequences. For example, across a variety of cultures, male sexual jealousy has been found to be a major cause of serious harm to women, including wife beating and homicide (Daly & Wilson, 1988; Daly, Wilson, & Weghorst, 1982 cited in Cramer, Manning-Ryan, Johnson, & Barbo. ...read more.

Conclusion

More specifically, males scored more positively (n=30, M=26.93, SD = 7.34) than their female counterparts (n=30, M=17.93, SD = 5.31). Table B - Descriptive statistics without grouping variable Histograms for the two genders were inspected separately (Appendix D). As data for the female participants seemed slightly skewed and the participant numbers wasn't very large, an appropriate statistical test was Mann-Whitney. The descriptive statistics for the whole sample are mentioned in Table B. Table C - Ranks The descriptive statistics are thereby dichotomised into the grouping variable of gender in the following table. Table C shows that participants who indicated a more negative attitude to sexual infidelity were females (median = 20.30) and participants who showed a more positive attitude to sexual infidelity were males (median = 40.70). Table D - Mann-Whitney U The Mann-Whitney U was found to be 144 (z=-4.53) with an associated probability value of p < 0.005 which shows that the higher ratings in the attitudes were not due to sampling error. Therefore, there is enough evidence to conclude that participants' attitude type towards sexual infidelity greatly depends on their gender. Graph A -Male sample distribution The male distribution as can be seen from the above table, is normally distributed. Most of the subjects' scores seem to concentrate around the centre of the scoring range (M = 26.93). The range also extends from 14 as a minimum and 41 as a maximum score, which is not the case with females. Graph B - Female Sample Distribution The female distribution is slightly more skewed. A greater number of females have a negative attitude towards sexual infidelity judging by their lower scores (M = 17.93). It is also noted that the range extends from 10 as a minimum to 32 as a maximum score. 1 Generally, individuals consider themselves as rational beings who always have 'reasons' behind their actions (Buss, 2000). This item may have been measuring participants' self-reasoning or justification rather than an unfaithful tendency as the act of unfaithfulness has already been committed. Gender Differences in Attitudes towards Sexual Infidelity - 3 - ...read more.

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