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I Can But You Can't: Inconsistencies in Judgments of and Experiences With Infidelity

  • Ashley E. Thompson (a1) and Lucia F. O'Sullivan (a2)
Abstract

Despite strong prohibition against infidelity and endorsement of exclusivity as a norm, many people report engaging in infidelity. The current study examined this paradox by employing a between-subject design using online surveys with 810 adults to assess actor-observer biases in the degree of permissiveness judging own versus partner's hypothetical behaviour, as well as hypocrisy in judgments of infidelity versus self-reported behaviour. Participants judged their own behaviour more permissively than their partner's, but only for emotional/affectionate and technology/online behaviours (not sexual/explicit or solitary behaviours). Many reported having engaged in behaviours that they judged to be infidelity, especially emotional/affectionate and technology/online infidelity behaviours. Sexual attitudes, age, and religion predicted inconsistencies in judgments of infidelity and self-reported behaviour (hypocrisy). This study has implications for educators and practitioners working with couples to improve communication and establish guidelines for appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.

Copyright
Corresponding author
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE: Ashley E. Thompson, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Department of Psychology, 800 Algoma Blvd., Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901, USA. Email: thompsae@uwosh.edu
References
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