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Prediction of Relationship Satisfaction by Examining Attitudes Towards Infidelity

Info: 8382 words (34 pages) Dissertation
Published: 17th Dec 2019

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Tagged: Psychology


Previous researches have linked relationship satisfaction with infidelity and have shown that there is some connection between the quality of a romantic relationship and the occurrence of infidelity. Past researches have also linked sexual satisfaction to infidelity occurrence and have found that low sexual satisfaction may lead to infidelity in a relationship. This study aimed to see whether both relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction can lead to infidelity. Attitudes and behaviours towards infidelity was also examined while an additional sexual compulsion test for indication of higher sexual urges. Therefore, this study was conducted to explore the prediction of relationship satisfaction by examining variables such as attitude towards infidelity, infidelity scale, sexual compulsion and behaviours that can indicate infidelity. The sample included 119 participants of both genders, various age, various relationship status and sexual orientations. The participants were asked to self-report on each variable in the form of questionnaire. The results show that attitude toward infidelity was highly significant positive predictor of relationship satisfaction. On the other hand, the infidelity scale and sexual compulsion was significantly negative predictor of relationship satisfaction. However, the results also show that there is no significant relationship between behaviours indicating infidelity and mindfulness. From the findings, it can be concluded that the higher the relationship satisfaction, the higher the negative perception/attitude towards infidelity. Likewise, high relationship satisfaction indicates lower infidelity and sexual compulsion.  Further research is proposed by the researcher to investigate more on infidelity and its relation to sexuality. However, the study requires larger sample size and different suitable variables for better predicting of relationship satisfaction.


Many researchers have concluded that there are two main types of infidelity: sexual and emotional (e.g., Buss, Larsen, Westen, & Semmelroth, 1992; Shackelford & Buss, 1996). Sexual infidelity is considered as engaging in sexual intercourse with someone other than one’s partner. Emotional infidelity is understood to be falling in love with another individual other than one’s partner. Before moving on to consider these two forms of infidelity, the researcher notes that not everyone agrees that sexual and emotional infidelity are the only forms of relationship transgressions. Roscoe, Cavanaugh, and Kennedy (1988), for instance, found that undergraduates believed that in addition to sexual intercourse that behaviours, such as dating or spending time with a different partner and engaging in other sexual interactions with someone else, such as kissing, flirting, and petting are also acts of infidelity. Yarab, Sensibaugh, and Allgerier (1998) have claimed that other unfaithful behaviours include, passionately kissing, sexual fantasies, non-sexual fantasies about falling in love, sexual attraction, romantic attraction, flirting and behaviour in, such as, studying, having lunch with, and going to a movie with someone other than one’s partner. We also take the line that there are other unfaithful behaviours besides sex and falling in love, however, this paper is solely focusing on sexual infidelity.

One of the most distressing events that can occur in romantic partnerships is the suspicion of or actual bouts of infidelity. Not only has it been reported as the leading reason for divorce around the world (Buss, 2000), but it is immensely hurtful and can completely breach the trust between partners. Moreover, acts of infidelity leave people feeling heartbroken, regardless of cultural group or ethnicity (Druckerman, 2007). When asked to share a hurtful event they had experienced, college students within romantic relationship were most likely to talk about a partner’s sexual infidelity. Sexual infidelity was not only associated with the greatest amounts of hurt, rejection, and negative self-perception (Feeney, 2004), but it had the greatest negative long-term effects on the victims and the romantic relationships.

A variety of studies have been conducted to ascertain how people perceive and define an extradyadic relationship. Hertlein, Wetchler, and Piercy (2005) said, “What is especially complex about the broad definition of infidelity is that two different people in the same relationship might have different ideas about what represents infidelity or constitutes as an affair” (p. 6). Often, infidelity is relatively subjective and depends greatly on the implicit and explicit rules established within a relationship. Terms such as affairs, cheating, unfaithful, extramarital, extra-premarital, external involvement, and extradyadic are all examples of how infidelity has been labelled. In addition to the varied labels, physical, emotional, and cyber are used to distinguish different types of infidelity (Hertlein et al., 2005). Prior research narrowly defined infidelity as sexual behaviour outside of the relationship; however, Hertlein et al., (2005), explains that the definition of infidelity has expanded to be more inclusive of a more diverse group of behaviours. Given the idiosyncratic way in which infidelity is defined and experienced, the many definitions in the literature cannot possibly encompass the feelings of all those whose partner engages in an extradyadic physical, emotional, or cyber relationship.

While both men and women engage in extramarital affairs, infidelity frequently manifests itself differently by gender. Men are more likely than are women to exhibit permissive sexual attitudes (Gangestad & Simpson, 1990) and to claim purely sexual motives for their infidelities (Glass & Wright, 1985). Men tend to engage in extramarital affairs regardless of marital satisfaction, whereas, women tend to cite dissatisfaction with their relationships as a primary explanation for their infidelities (Glass & Wright, 1977). Women’s extramarital affairs tend to last longer than do men’s affairs and they tend to be initiated by the desire for emotional connectedness (Glass & Wright, 1985). Women report being more upset at the prospect of their spouse committing emotional infidelity than do men. Conversely, men get more upset with the physical aspect of infidelity than do women (Christopher & Sprecher, 2000; Cann, Mangum, & Wells, 2001).

Regardless of gender, infidelity, both extramarital and extradyadic, is a significant problem that seriously affects many relationships. Although the seriousness of affairs is widely recognized, there is no universal definition of infidelity. Fife, Weeks, and Gambescia (2008) proposed that “most committed relationships are characterized by an explicit or implicit commitment regarding intimacy, including both sexual and emotional fidelity to one’s partner” (p. 316). They define infidelity as “a betrayal of this implied or stated commitment regarding intimate exclusivity. With infidelity, emotional and/or sexual intimacy is shared with someone outside of the primary relationship without the consent of the other partner” (p. 316). Nevertheless, both scholars and members of the general public have widely divergent perceptions and definitions of infidelity. Blow & Hartnett (2005) stated that, infidelity is defined in a myriad of ways and can comprise a number of activities including: “having an affair,” “extramarital relationship,” “cheating,” “sexual intercourse,” “oral sex,” “kissing,” “fondling,” “emotional connections that are beyond friendships,” “friendships,” “Internet relationships,” “pornography use,” and others (p. 186).

One of the most highly recognized forms of infidelity is physical or sexual infidelity. Whitty and Quigley (2008) state that, “sexual infidelity is considered to be engaging in sexual intercourse with someone other than one’s partner” (p. 461). McAnulty and Brineman (2007) report, “For most students, spending excessive time with another person and virtually any form of extradyadic physical intimacy qualify as infidelity” (p. 97). Many would argue that sexual relations should only be between two people in a committed relationship so in most cases, physical interaction outside of the primary relationship is viewed as infidelity (Boekhout et al., 1999). Behaviours such as hugging, kissing, touching, necking, oral sex, and intercourse may all be behaviours associated with physical infidelity.

Monogamy in one’s intimate relationships is largely considered the norm worldwide (Cherlin, 2009; Watkins & Boon, 2015), with 94–99% of individuals indicating that they expect sexual and romantic exclusivity from their partner (Treas & Giesen, 2000). Despite prevailing strong preferences for monogamy, acts of infidelity (defined as a secret sexual, romantic, or emotional involvement that violates the commitment of monogamy to an exclusive relationship; Glass, 2002) are fairly common (Hall & Fincham, 2009; Mark, Janssen, & Milhausen, 2011; Martins et al., 2015; Schmitt, 2004). Between 20% and 35% of adults report engaging in some type of infidelity in their lifetime (Hall & Fincham, 2009; Mark et al., 2011). Furthermore, in a recent study assessing experience with infidelity, 23.4% of men and 15.5% of women reported engaging in physical/sexual extra-dyadic behaviour during their current relationship (Martins et al., 2015).

Infidelity is a serious relationship transgression that is widely condemned (Widmer, Treas, & Newcomb, 1998). In fact, infidelity is the most common reason that spouses give for divorce in a variety of cultures (Amato & Rogers, 1997). The recognition that one’s partner has engaged in an extradyadic relationship (a romantic relationship with a person outside of the couple) often results in substantial distress (Buunk, 1995) and even physical violence (Daly & Wilson, 1988). Because of these negative consequences, an individual’s perception of his or her susceptibility to infidelity and of his or her intentions to engage in extradyadic behaviours has implications for the relationship that are potentially serious.

A fundamental assumption for most romantic relationships is that of exclusivity, the belief that both individuals are emotionally and sexually committed to each other solely (Treas & Giesen, 2000). Despite this assumption, infidelity is relatively common. Although estimates vary, in a study of college dating relationships, Wiederman and Hurd (1999) found that 68% of women and 75% of men had been involved in some form of extradyadic activity. To help people understand the prevalence of extradyadic behaviour in dating relationships, researchers have sought to identify correlates of the experience. Researchers have associated factors such as low sexual frequency (Thompson, 1983), the opportunity to engage in extradyadic behaviour (Blumstein & Schwartz, 1983), and an individual’s level of sociosexuality (i.e., an individual’s willingness to engage in sexual relationships without commitment; Seal, Agostinelli, & Hannett, 1994) with a greater likelihood of engaging in extradyadic behaviour.

Without referring to the nonsexual satisfaction and happiness literatures, people intuitively know what researchers have discovered: Satisfaction and happiness are correlated with mental and physical health. Furthermore, research (Blumstein & Schwartz, 1983; HendersonKing & Veroff, 1994; Kurdek, 1991; Lawrence & Byers, 1995) has shown a general correlation between sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction in both same and opposite-sex couples. However, just as researchers are not exactly sure which aspects of daily life produce personal happiness, they remain a bit hazy—though not clueless—on exactly what contributes to people’s sexual satisfaction. Research has indicated, for example, that sexual dissatisfaction is correlated with extramarital sexuality (Bringle & Buunk, 1991) and that extramarital sexuality places both same-sex and opposite-sex couples at higher risk for dissolution (Blumstein & Schwartz).

Sexuality is one of the defining properties of a romantic relationship. Of course, sex can be defined in a number of ways, but most committed couples will have had sexual intercourse or engaged in genital stimulation at some time in their relationship. The expectation of having sex is almost at the core of the meaning of marriage and is one of a few criteria that separate marriage from a friendship or a roommate relationship. The wedding night may no longer be the first time most couples make love in Western societies, but it is certainly expected that sex will occur on that night and on succeeding others (McNulty & Fisher, 2008). Even under conditions of extreme departure from the original marital contract—for example, when one partner has Alzheimer’s disease—the expectation of continued sex between married partners might be sustained (Wright, 1993).

Another possible correlate of infidelity that researchers have explored is the quality of the primary relationship. In reviewing 10 studies of infidelity, Thompson (1983) proposed “deficit model” to explain infidelity in which deficiencies in the primary relationship play a central role in precipitating and sustaining infidelity. Only 1 study of the 10 that he reviewed failed to reveal a significant relationship between marital satisfaction and infidelity. Thompson estimated that characteristics of the marriage (e.g., low satisfaction and low sexual frequency) reliably account for 25% of the variance in infidelity. Analogue studies with young, married couples have shown that marital conflict may make a couple more susceptible to an extramarital affair (Buss & Shackelford, 1997); relationship dissatisfaction may increase the desire to become involved in infidelity (Prins, Buunk, & VanYperen, 1993); and partners believe that low marital satisfaction will lead to an affair (Wiederman & Allgeier, 1996).

Nonetheless, not all studies have shown a relationship between infidelity and relationship dissatisfaction. In their large-sample survey of American couples, Blumstein and Schwartz (1983) failed to find a relationship between infidelity and marital satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, or sexual frequency. In addition, Spanier and Margolis (1983) found that quality of marital sex was unrelated to occurrence of extramarital sex (EMS) in their sample of recently separated and divorced respondents. Moreover, some couple therapists also support the idea that infidelity does not automatically imply a. poor primary relationship (Elbaum, 1981; Finzi, 1989).

According to Davidson et al. (1995), “a sense of enjoyment or satisfaction with one’s sexual life is a highly personal sentiment greatly related to an individual’s past sexual experiences, current expectations, and future aspirations” (p. 237). Sexual satisfaction has been shown to be related to the characteristics and behaviour of the partner, emotions, sexual behaviours as well as to social background factors. In a review of studies conducted in the U.S. (Sprecher and McKinney, 1993), sexual satisfaction was found to be associated with young age and middle class background. Sexual behaviours connected to sexual satisfaction included frequent intercourse, oral-genital sex, experimental lovemaking, and orgasm.

Sexual infidelity, which can be defined as extradyadic sex within the context of a monogamous relationship, is considered to be among the most significant threats to the stability of adult relationships, including marriage. For example, Betzig (1989) compared 160 cultures and found that infidelity was the single most cited cause of divorce. In Western countries, it has been estimated that between 25 and 50% of divorcees cited a spouse’s infidelity as the primary cause of the divorce (Kelly & Conley,1987). Research on infidelity in heterosexual relationships suggests that around one-third of men and one-quarter of women may engage in extradyadic sexual relationships at least once in their lives (Kinsey, Pomeroy, & Martin, 1948; Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin, & Gebhard, 1953). Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, and Michaels (1994) and Wiederman (1997),bothusing nationally representative samples, found that approximately 20–25% of men and 10–15% of women reported engaging in extramarital sex during their marriage. However, inconsistencies in how relationships (e.g.,whether monogamous by agreement, marital,  etc.) and infidelity (e.g., whether infidelity includes one-time interactions, long-term affairs, or both) are defined, and differences across samples (e.g., whether relying on married couples or focusing on other types of relationships), make it difficult to arrive at reliable estimates. In addition, given the negative connotations of words like ‘‘infidelity’’ and ‘‘cheating,’’ these behaviours can be expected, although to an unknown degree, to be under reported. According to some studies, the vast majority of men and women believe that it is ‘‘always’’ or ‘‘almost always’’ wrong for a married person to have sex with someone other than his or her partner (e.g., Smith, 1994). Yet, the existing literature suggests that extramarital or, more generally, extradyadic sex in supposedly monogamous relationships, is common.

Little is known about what behaviors people believe are indicative of infidelity in romantic relationships. Few studies have examined attitudes toward infidelity, particularly in terms of non-sexual behaviors. Some research has focused on developing taxonomies of cheating behaviors (e.g., Yarab, Sensibaugh, & Allgeier, 1998), whereas others have focused on perceptions of the acceptability of particular behaviors. For example, Weiss and Felton (1987) surveyed undergraduate women in an introductory course in marriage and family relations, and found high consensus that extramarital sex is considered cheating.

However, there was disagreement upon what other extramarital behaviors are also considered cheating, such as going to a movie, having dinner, or dancing with someone other than one’s partner. Because participants responded to these items in the context of a married relationship, it is unclear whether this pattern of results would be found for dating relationships. Additionally, all of the participants reported being single and thus, their attitudes may be different than that of a person in a long-term relationship. In another such study, Feldman and Cauffman (1999) examined attitudes toward and incidence of betrayal behaviors in college students. Overall, participants rated sexual betrayal (i.e., sexual intercourse or petting) as unacceptable in a variety of circumstances. The circumstances included having a bad relationship with one’s partner, being sure that one’s partner would not find out, being unsure of one’s relationship with their partner, feeling carried away with attraction toward the other person, and feeling vindictive toward their partner. Those who reported that they had cheated on a partner engaged in the following behaviors: dating, emotional involvement, kissing, petting, and sexual intercourse. Overall, participants rated engaging in behaviors such as being friends, having coffee, studying, and talking on the phone as being acceptable with someone other than their partner when in a monogamous relationship. Other behaviors, such as flirting, thinking about the person a lot, and dreaming or fantasizing about someone else were seen as less acceptable.

Individuals involved in romantic relationships typically possess an implicit understanding of the extent to which their involvement in certain interpersonal behaviours is expected to be exclusive to the partnership (Moore-Hirschl, Parra, Weis, & Laflin, 1995; Wiederman & Hurd, 1999). Exclusive relationships constitute a societal norm in many countries, including Australia (de Vaus, 1997), America (Treas & Giesen, 2000; Wiederman & Hurd, 1999), Spain (de Roda, Martinez-Inigo, de Paul, & Yela, 1999) and Britain (Wellings, Field, Johnson, & Wadsworth, 1994). Furthermore, the exclusivity norm has been found to predominate in married, cohabiting, and dating couples (Treas & Giesen, 2000).

Research investigating infidelity has traditionally focused on the extradyadic involvement of married individuals. However, dating and cohabiting couples have begun to be investigated recently. In their pioneering study of dating infidelity, Roscoe, Cavanaugh, and Kennedy (1988) required older adolescents to report their perceptions of behaviours that constitute infidelity during dating, and the consequences they anticipate might arise from unfaithfulness. Young adults reported that dating infidelity comprised both extradyadic kissing and extradyadic sexual intercourse. This finding is congruent with previous findings that extra-marital infidelity comprises extradyadic activities spanning a continuum of sexual behaviours (Buunk, 1980; Edwards, 1973), and establishes a basis for comparisons between dating infidelity and extra-marital infidelity. The consequences of sexual infidelity for the dyad are also comparable across relationship contexts. Spousal unfaithfulness often results in separation or divorce (Buunk, 1980), while dating infidelity most frequently results in relationship termination (Roscoe et al., 1988).

Since sexuality has gained a great deal of scientific focus during the last several decades, a large body of work has accumulated which provides evidence of a strong link between sexual satisfaction and overall relationship satisfaction (Blumstein & Schwarz, 1983; Henderson-King & Veroff, 1994; Sprecher & Cate, 2004). This association has been demonstrated in dating, cohabitating, married, and homosexual couples (Byers, 2005; Holmberg, Blair, & Phillips, 2010; Kurdek, 1991; Sprecher, 2002). Additionally, it has been found for couples in their mid-life who have been married for decades (Yeh at al., 2006) as well as those just beginning their marriages (Henderson-King, & Veroff, 1994). As Byers (1999) points out, however, the association between sexual and relationship satisfaction is stronger in the earlier years of marriage and diminishes somewhat as the relationship continues over time. Given the strong association between sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction it is unsurprising that sexual satisfaction also contributes to relationship stability (Dzara, 2010; Sprecher, 2002; Sprecher & Cate; Yeh, et al. 2006).

Low relationship satisfaction has consistently demonstrated significance in the prediction of infidelity. In a study that required older adolescents to nominate reasons why an individual might engage in extradyadic activities while dating, relationship dissatisfaction was the most common reason provided (Roscoe et al., 1988).

One of the most common reasons why a committed individual engages in cheating behaviors or mate poaching is because of dissatisfaction with the current relationship (Schmitt & Buss, 2001). It makes sense then to suggest that dissatisfaction with a relationship should lead to decreases in relationship commitment. Individuals who are more committed to both their relationship and partner should be less likely to respond to other sexual offers, and should be less likely to pursue attractive alternatives.

Furthermore, in a sample of heterosexual university students in dating relationships, low relationship satisfaction accounted for 18.49% of the variance in a measure of recent acts of physically intimate behaviour involving an extradyadic partner (Drigotas et al., 1999). Using the Investment model scale (Rusbult et al., 1998) to predict dating infidelity, the authors also measured commitment and investment size, both of which were found to be significant negative predictors of recent acts of physically intimate extradyadic activity (Drigotas et al., 1999). Consistent with this finding, researchers have suggested that individuals who are more committed to their present dating partner, and have invested more in the present relationship, are less likely to engage in extradyadic activities because the risk of loss is heightened with increased commitment and investment (Roscoe et al., 1988).

Relational factors have also been associated with infidelity. Not surprisingly, lower levels of relationship satisfaction and commitment predict a greater likelihood of engaging in infidelity than higher levels of satisfaction and/or commitment (Drigotas et al. 1999; Lydon et al. 1997; Treas and Geissen 2000; Whisman et al. 2007). Infidelity attitudes have also been shown to change as a function of relationship commitment, such that sexual behaviors are viewed as substantially more unfaithful as relationship commitment increases (Yarab et al. 1999).

This broad range of prevalence estimates is possibly due to a lack of consensus regarding what constitutes infidelity. The most basic definition of infidelity argues that infidelity is any sexual act performed outside of one’s committed relationship, in which both members have vowed to remain sexually exclusive (Merkle and Richardson 2000). However, this definition is not universally comprehensive because there are many ways in which an individual may break the expectations of exclusivity that do not include sexual acts. Very broadly, individuals can commit infidelity by either engaging in sexual interactions or by forming deep and meaningful emotional connections with an extradyadic partner (Shackelford and Buss 1997).

In response to the lack of consensus regarding the definition of infidelity, some research has focused on the individual’s perceptions of particular behaviors (Feldman and Cauffman 1999; Weis and Felton 1987; Yarab et al. 1999) while others have focused on developing typologies of extradyadic behaviors (Barta and Kiene 2005; Glass and Wright 1992; Mattingly et al. 2010; Wilson et al. 2011). For example, Wilson and colleagues (2011) developed a reliable and valid scale which examines the degree to which participants perceive various behaviors as indicative of cheating. The Perceptions of Dating Infidelity Scale (PDIS) assesses three types of extradyadic behaviors: Explicit, Deceptive, and Ambiguous. Explicit behaviors are those which are typically perceived as infidelity in the more basic models, such as oral sex or sexual intercourse with an extradyadic partner. Deceptive behaviors are those aimed at actively deceiving one’s partner, such as lying to or withholding information from one’s partner. Finally, the Ambiguous behaviors represent contextual factors that might predict one’s intent to cheat, such as dancing with or hugging an extradyadic partner.

With such a high number of unsuccessful marriages, many researchers have sought to understand the factors that lead to relationship satisfaction. In that mission, the role of sexual satisfaction has been highlighted as a metaphorical barometer of relationship satisfaction, indicating that sexual satisfaction is vital in an intimate relationship, possibly even a „make or break‟ factor (Barrientos & Paez, 2006; Litzinger & Gordon, 2005; Santtila et al., 2008). There is a wealth of past literature that indicates that low sexual satisfaction promotes marital instability (Edwards & Booth, 1994) and significantly increases one’s likelihood of divorce (White & Booth, 1991). Thus, sexual satisfaction is an increasingly important and relevant area of study.

Sexual satisfaction is defined as the affective response arising from one‟s evaluation of his or her sexual relationship, including the perception that one‟s sexual needs are being met, fulfilling one‟s own and one‟s partner‟s expectations, and a positive evaluation of the overall sexual relationship (Offman & Mattheson, 2005). Past studies have provided evidence that sexual satisfaction is positively associated with overall relationship satisfaction (Santtila et al., 2008) as well as communication and marital satisfaction (Litzinger, et al., 2005). Conversely, sexual dissatisfaction has been linked to infidelity (Allen et al., 2008) and even divorce (Amato & Previti, 2003). Thus, it is important to identify what factors relate to sexual satisfaction in order to better understand how to help individuals build and maintain successful intimate relationships.

Traditionally, research in the field of infidelity only considered the paradigm of marriage. However, due to the exponentially increasing number of divorces, remarriages, and co-habitation, many long-term relationships are now considered ―marriage-like‖ where infidelity can occur and have the same devastating effect. Another important inclusion to consider is same-sex relationships, which are increasingly accepted today and are as susceptible to adultery as any other intimate relationships.

Sex life satisfaction is particularly important for researchers of intimate relations (Goodwin, 2009) for two reasons. First, sexual satisfaction provides one mechanism through which to view a relationships partner. Second, sexual satisfaction is a construct that lends itself to prediction by a variety of other relationships phenomena (e.g., marital quality and stability). Furthermore, the domain of sex is very important for peoples lives. The satisfaction experienced in this domain can have repercussions on the whole life. Satisfaction with sex life can be defined as a global evaluation by the person of his or her sex life. It appears that individuals construct a standard, which they perceive as appropriate for themselves, and compare the circumstances of this sex life to that standard. Hence, this is a subjective judgment, rather than a judgment based on some externally imposed objective standard (Diener et al., 1985). This area of life is common and furthermore, appears to be a critical domain of life to many.

Significance of the Study

The present study will examine the relationship between



A total of 125 individuals participated in the current study. To meet participant criteria, individuals had to be 18 years of age or older at the time of study participation and must have been or is currently involved in a committed romantic relationship. This latter variable was essential as it was important to the research that all participants must have experienced romantic relationship at some point in their lifetime. This ensures that the participants have first-hand experience to relationship satisfactions and infidelity which will enable them to answer the survey questions honestly.

Of the final sample of 119 participants, 47.9% were males (n = 57) and 52.1% were females (n = 62). The mean age for the total sample was 31.6 years (SD = 7.9, range = 18-55). The majority of participants identified as White (84.9%, n = 101) with the remainder identifying as Asian/ Asian British (9.2%, n = 11), Black/ African/ Caribbean/ Black British (2.5%, n = 3), Mixed/ Multiple ethnic groups (2.5%, n = 3) and one did not respond (0.8%). In regards to sexual orientation, 106 participants were heterosexual (89.1%), six were homosexual (5.0%), five were bisexual (4.2%) and two were others (1.7%).In terms of relationship status, 32 participants were single (26.9%), 45 were in a relationship (37.8%), 36 were married (30.3%), two were divorced (1.7%), one participant was separated (0.8%), one participant was widowed (0.8%), and two were others (1.7%).


An online survey software (Qualtrics) was used for the data collection. A participant invitation letter outlining the details of the research and researcher was presented to the participants at the start of the online survey. As the data is collected online, an informed consent letter was included which asked the participants to indicate their consent by clicking a check box provided. The participants then anonymously completed the survey in their own time, which took roughly about 10 minutes.

Design & Measures

A correlational, cross sectional design was used for this study. This design was chosen to test the relationships between the measures used in the study. The following measures were used in the study and were encountered by participants in the presented order:

Demographics Details. Participants were asked to provide basic demographic information that was relevant to the study. This includes gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, relationship status, length of longest relationship and current relationship, number of sexual partners and number of romantic relationships. Participants were also asked whether they have engaged in certain behaviours whilst in a relationship. This included whether they had ever flirted with or dated another person, kissed another person, had a single sexual encounter with another person, had multiple sexual encounters with another person. Another person in these questions context refers to someone other than their partner.

Relationship Satisfaction Scale (RSS) (David D. Burns,1993). A seven-item self-report measure that evaluates marriage or most intimate relationship of a person. All statements are scored using a 7-point Likert-type scale ranging from extremely unsatisfied to extremely satisfied.  The RSS measure includes statements like ‘degree of affection and caring’ and ‘satisfaction with your role in the relationship’.

Attitude towards Infidelity Scale (Mark Whatley, 2006). A self-report measure with 12-items that assesses what people think and feel about issues associated with infidelity. All statements are scored using a 7-point Likert-type scale ranging from strongly disagrees to strongly agrees. The scale includes statements such as ‘being unfaithful never hurt anyone’ and ‘infidelity is morally wrong in all circumstances regardless of the situation’.

The Infidelity Scale (Drigotas, Gentilia, & Safstrom, 1999). A 11-item scale that predict infidelity. The original scale used an 8-point Likert-type scale, however the research reduced it to a 7-point Likert-type scale to standardize it along with the other measures used. The 11 questions in this scale includes ‘how attractive did you find this person?’ and ‘how much time did you spend thinking about this person?’. One particular question includes ‘who initiated the mutual attraction between the two of you?’ with the scores of ‘the other person, equal, and me’.

Sexual Compulsivity Scale (SCS) (S. C. Kalichman, 1994). The Sexual Compulsivity Scale was designed to assess insistent, intrusive, and uncontrolled sexual thoughts and behaviours. The 10-item scale uses a 4-point scale ranging from not at all like me to very much like me. The SCS scale includes statements such as ‘my sexual appetite has gotten in the way of my relationships’ and ‘I have to struggle to control my sexual thoughts and behaviour’.

Behaviours indicating Infidelity. A 35-item self-report measure that comprises of behavioural scenarios that could or could not signify infidelity according to the participants’ perception. All statements are scored using a 4-point Likert-type scale ranging from never infidelity to always infidelity with the two scale in between scored as sometimes infidelity and usually infidelity. Statements includes ‘touching someone who is not your partner with intimate intent’ and ‘paying for sexual favours (such as escorts or sex workers)’.

Data Analysis

The collected data was exported from Qualtrics to SPSS Statistics software to be analysed. As this was a cross sectional study, the researcher used correlation and regression as main form of data analysis.


The study was conducted in accordance with BPS Guidelines and approved by the University of East London’s Ethics Committee before data collection began. Information on the right of withdrawal was included in detail in the participant invitation letter if at all a participant chose to withdraw at any point during the survey. The participants were also asked to give a unique identifying code instead of names to protect their anonymity. Although it was unlikely that the questions asked will raise any issues, in the event that responses to the questions or the nature of the study caused any concerns for individual participants, a debriefing sheet with contact details of the researcher, the study’s supervisor and details of a few support organisations was included at the end of the questionnaire. Participants were thanked for their participation at the end of the survey.


The exported data from Qualtrics was transferred to SPSS software for data analysis.

Table 1: Frequency statistics of gender
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Male 57 47.9 47.9 47.9
Female 62 52.1 52.1 100.0
Total 119 100.0 100.0

Table 1 shows the frequency and percentage of the gender of the participants. There were more female participants compared to male.

Table 2 refers to the frequency and percentage of the ethnicity of participants. The categorisation of the ethnic backgrounds was modified to suit the population in the United Kingdom. As shown in the table, majority of the participants were White and the remainder were Asian/Asian British, Mixed/ Multiple ethnic groups and Black/ African/ Caribbean/ Black British.

Table 2: Frequency statistics of ethnic background
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid White 101 84.9 85.6 85.6
Mixed/ Multiple ethnic groups 3 2.5 2.5 88.1
Black/ African/ Caribbean/ Black British 3 2.5 2.5 90.7
Asian/ Asian British 11 9.2 9.3 100.0
Total 118 99.2 100.0
Missing System 1 .8
Total 119 100.0

Table 3 as shown below signifies to frequency and percentage of the sexual orientation of participants. Three main categorisation of sexual orientation was used. As shown in the table, majority of the participants were heterosexual and the remainder were homosexual and bisexual. Two participants identified as other with the additional note of prefer not to mention and asexual respectively.

Table 3: Frequency statistics of sexual orientation
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Heterosexual 106 89.1 89.1 89.1
Homosexual 6 5.0 5.0 94.1
Bisexual 5 4.2 4.2 98.3
Other? Please click here and provide details in the box if you wish 2 1.7 1.7 100.0
Total 119 100.0 100.0

As seen in Table 4 below, the frequency and percentage of the relationship status of participants is shown. Majority of the participants were single, in a relationship, and married while the remainder were divorced, separated, widowed and two indicated others, stating it’s complicated and in a polygamous relationship respectively.

Table 4: Frequency statistics of relationship status
Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent
Valid Single 32 26.9 26.9 26.9
In a relationship 45 37.8 37.8 64.7
Married 36 30.3 30.3 95.0
Divorced 2 1.7 1.7 96.6
Separated 1 .8 .8 97.5
Widowed 1 .8 .8 98.3
Other? Please click here and provide details in the box if you wish 2 1.7 1.7 100.0
Total 119 100.0 100.0

Table 5 indicates the age of all the participants. The minimum age criterion for participants were 18 and the maximum were 55 as recorded below. The mean age of all participants were m = 31.6 with a standard deviation of SD = 7.9.

Table 5: Descriptive statistics of age
N Minimum Maximum Mean Std. Deviation
Age 119 18 55 31.62 7.920
Valid N (listwise) 119

As shown in Table 6, the sum of all scores obtained from all participants gave a new overall sum for each of the variables. The minimum and maximum range, means and standard deviation is as shown in the table below.

Based on Table 6, Behaviours indicating Infidelity (BII) had a high variability in scores whereas Sexual Compulsivity Scale (SCS) had the lowest variability in scores. Attitude towards Infidelity Scale (ATIS) had a quite high score while The Infidelity Scale (TIS) scores were average. The Relationship Satisfaction Scale (RSS) scores were lower than expected. Furthermore, in can also be seen that BII had a comparably higher mean then the other variables. This may be due to BII having a higher maximum score than the others. The implications of these scores will be in discussion.

Table 6: Descriptive statistics of variables involved
N Minimum Maximum Mean Std. Deviation
RSS_total 119 7.00 49.00 36.0336 10.60455
ATIS_total 119 42.00 96.00 68.9412 14.20986
TIS_total 119 11.00 72.00 44.0756 15.74541
SCS_total 119 10.00 37.00 16.5714 7.25863
BII_total 119 35.00 132.00 90.2521 14.63292
Valid N (listwise) 119

In addition, a correlational analysis was performed. This analysis was done to explore the relationship between all the variables. The results are as shown in Table 7. Based on the results, RSS was positively correlated with ATIS. Furthermore, ATIS had the highest correlation with mindfulness (r = 0.288) This was just as the researchers hypothesized. Furthermore, as predicted, RSS was negatively correlated with TIS (r = -0.218). The RSS and SCS is also negatively correlated (r = -0.119). However, based on the results, there appeared to be no significant correlation between RSS and BII (p > 0.01).

Table 7: Correlation of variables involved
RSStotal ATIStotal TIStotal SCStotal BTItotal
RSStotal Pearson Correlation 1 .288** -.218** -.119 .051
Sig. (1-tailed) .001 .008 .099 .291
N 119 119 119 119 119
ATIStotal Pearson Correlation .288** 1 -.431** -.383** .410**
Sig. (1-tailed) .001 .000 .000 .000
N 119 119 119 119 119
TIStotal Pearson Correlation -.218** -.431** 1 .432** -.038
Sig. (1-tailed) .008 .000 .000 .341
N 119 119 119 119 119
SCStotal Pearson Correlation -.119 -.383** .432** 1 .087
Sig. (1-tailed) .099 .000 .000 .174
N 119 119 119 119 119
BTItotal Pearson Correlation .051 .410** -.038 .087 1
Sig. (1-tailed) .291 .000 .341 .174
N 119 119 119 119 119
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (1-tailed).

Lastly, a regression test was done using the Standard Method, whereby mindfulness was regressed onto the other three variables. The results are as shown in Table 8 below.

R Square = 0.099; F (4,114) = 3.12, P < .018.

Table 8 model summary represents the result of the association between the criterion and the predictor variables which was (R = 0.314).  It shows that 9.9 percentage of the variation is RSS (R2 = 0.099).

The significant value of ‘t’ tells us that that the extent to which ATIS is significantly predictive of our levels of RSS. The regression Co-efficient for ATIS is 0.213.

Table 8: Regression analysis of variables involved

Model Summaryb
Model R R Square Adjusted R Square Std. Error of the Estimate
1 .314a .099 .067 10.24296
a. Predictors: (Constant), BTItotal, TIStotal, SCStotal, ATIStotal
b. Dependent Variable: RSStotal
Model Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig.
1 Regression 1309.183 4 327.296 3.120 .018b
Residual 11960.683 114 104.918
Total 13269.866 118
a. Dependent Variable: RSStotal
b. Predictors: (Constant), BTItotal, TIStotal, SCStotal, ATIStotal
Model Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients t Sig.
B Std. Error Beta
1 (Constant) 28.593 7.993 3.577 .001
ATIStotal .213 .087 .286 2.466 .015
TIStotal -.080 .070 -.119 -1.141 .256
SCStotal .071 .153 .049 .464 .643
BTItotal -.054 .074 -.075 -.735 .464
a. Dependent Variable: RSStotal
Residuals Statisticsa
Minimum Maximum Mean Std. Deviation N
Predicted Value 30.1343 43.1679 36.0336 3.33088 119
Residual -33.01414 15.34605 .00000 10.06786 119
Std. Predicted Value -1.771 2.142 .000 1.000 119
Std. Residual -3.223 1.498 .000 .983 119
a. Dependent Variable: RSStotal


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