Original Paper

Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 643-658

First online:

Effect of Cheating Experience on Attitudes toward Infidelity

  • Desiree I. SharpeAffiliated withPsychology Department, University of Georgia Email author 
  • , Andrew S. WaltersAffiliated withNorthern Arizona University
  • , Matt J. GorenAffiliated withUniversity of California

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The present study investigated how cheating experience influences perception of others’ infidelity. Using vignette characters, we explored the hypothesis that a participant’s experience cheating on a partner and gender of vignette character moderate gender-differentiated perceptions of infidelity (i.e., men reporting more accepting attitudes toward infidelity than women). Participants (N = 320) were asked a series of questions evaluating both how ‘acceptable’ and ‘forgivable’ was a vignette character’s infidelity. Men and women with prior experience cheating found the cheating vignette character of their same gender significantly more acceptable and forgivable than the unfaithful character of the other gender. Participants who reported no history of infidelity found infidelity as generally unacceptable, regardless of character gender.


Extradyadic Gender differences Infidelity experience Cheating experience Cognitive dissonance