Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 175–191

Upset Over Sexual versus Emotional Infidelity Among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Adults

Original Paper

Abstract

One hypothesis derived from evolutionary perspectives is that men are more upset than women by sexual infidelity and women are more upset than men by emotional infidelity. The proposed explanation is that men, in contrast to women, face the risk of unwittingly investing in genetically unrelated offspring. Most studies, however, have relied on small college or community samples of heterosexual participants. We examined upset over sexual versus emotional jealousy among 63,894 gay, lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual participants. Participants imagined which would upset them more: their partners having sex with someone else (but not falling in love with them) or their partners falling in love with someone else (but not having sex with them). Consistent with this evolutionary perspective, heterosexual men were more likely than heterosexual women to be upset by sexual infidelity (54 vs. 35 %) and less likely than heterosexual women to be upset by emotional infidelity (46 vs. 65 %). This gender difference emerged across age groups, income levels, history of being cheated on, history of being unfaithful, relationship type, and length. The gender difference, however, was limited to heterosexual participants. Bisexual men and women did not differ significantly from each other in upset over sexual infidelity (30 vs. 27 %), regardless of whether they were currently dating a man (35 vs. 29 %) or woman (28 vs. 20 %). Gay men and lesbian women also did not differ (32 vs. 34 %). The findings present strong evidence that a gender difference exists in a broad sample of U.S. adults, but only among heterosexuals.

Keywords

Jealousy Infidelity Gender differences Evolutionary psychology Sexual orientation 

References

  1. Anderson, K. G. (2006). How well does paternity confidence match actual paternity? Current Anthropology, 47, 513–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersson, M. (1994). Sexual selection. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Barrett, H. C., Frederick, D. A., Haselton, M. G., & Kurzban, R. (2006). Can manipulations of cognitive load be used to test evolutionary hypotheses? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 513–518.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Betzig, L. (1989). Causes of conjugal dissolution: A cross cultural study. Current Anthropology, 30, 654–676.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bevan, J. L., & Lannutti, P. J. (2002). The experience and expression of romantic jealousy in same-sex and opposite-sex romantic relationships. Communication Research Reports, 19, 258–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boyd, R. T., & Richerson, P. (2005). The origin and evolution of cultures. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Buller, D. J. (2005). Evolutionary psychology: The emperor’s new paradigm. Trends in Cognitive Science, 9, 277–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Buss, D. M., & Haselton, M. (2005). The evolution of jealousy. Trends in Cognitive Science, 9, 506–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Buss, D. M., Larsen, R. J., & Westen, D. (1996). Sex differences in jealousy: Not gone, not forgotten, and not explained by alternative hypotheses. Psychological Science, 7, 373–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Buss, D. M., Larsen, R. J., Westen, D., & Semmelroth, J. (1992). Sex differences in jealousy: Evolution, physiology, and psychology. Psychological Science, 3, 251–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Buss, D. M., Shackelford, T. K., Kirkpatrick, L. A., Choe, J. C., Lim, H. K., Hasegawa, M., et al. (1999). Jealousy and the nature of beliefs about infidelity: Tests of competing hypotheses about sex differences in the United States, Korea, and Japan. Personal Relationships, 6, 125–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Carpenter, C. J. (2012). Meta-analyses of sex differences in responses to sexual versus emotional infidelity: Men and women are more similar than different. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 36, 25–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. DeSteno, D. (2010). Mismeasuring jealousy: A cautionary comment on Levy and Kelley. Psychological Science, 21, 1355–1356.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. DeSteno, D., Bartlett, M. Y., Braverman, J., & Salovey, P. (2002). Sex differences in jealousy: Evolutionary mechanism or artifact of measurement? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 1103–1116.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. DeSteno, D., Bartlett, M. Y., Salovey, P., et al. (2006). Constraining accommodative homunculi in evolutionary explorations of jealousy: A reply to Barrett et al. (2006). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 519–523.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. DeSteno, D. A., & Salovey, P. (1996). Evolutionary origins of sex differences in jealousy? Questioning the “fitness” of the model. Psychological Science, 7, 367–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dijkstra, P., Groothof, H. A. K., Poel, G. A., Laverman, T. T. G., Schrier, M., & Buunk, B. P. (2001). Sex differences in the events that elicit jealousy among homosexuals. Personal Relationships, 8, 41–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dufour, D. L., & Sauther, M. L. (2002). Comparative and evolutionary dimensions of the energetics of human pregnancy and lactation. American Journal of Human Biology, 14, 584–602.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Edlund, J. E. (2011). Jealousy reconsidered: A reply to DeSteno (2010). Evolutionary Psychology, 9, 116–117.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Frederick, D. A., Forbes, G. B., Grigorian, K. E., & Jarcho, J. M. (2007a). The UCLA Body Project I: Gender and ethnic differences in self-objectification and body satisfaction among 2,206 undergraduates. Sex Roles, 57, 317–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Frederick, D. A., & Haselton, M. G. (2007). Why is muscularity sexy? Tests of the fitness indicator hypothesis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 1167–1183.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Frederick, D. A., Lever, J., & Peplau, L. A. (2007b). Interest in cosmetic surgery and body image: Views of men and women across the lifespan. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 120, 1407–1415.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Frederick, D. A., Peplau, L. A., & Lever, J. (2006). The swimsuit issue: Correlates of body image in a sample of 52,677 heterosexual adults. Body Image, 4, 413–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Frederick, D. A., Peplau, L. A., & Lever, J. (2008). The Barbie mystique: Satisfaction with breast size and shape across the lifespan. International Journal of Sexual Health, 20, 200–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Frederick, D. A., Reynolds, T. A., & Fisher, M. L. (2013). The importance of female choice: Evolutionary perspectives on constraints, expressions, and variations in female mating strategies. In R. Chang, M. Fisher, & J. Garcia (Eds.), Evolution’s empress: Darwinian perspectives on the nature of women (pp. 304–329). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gallup, G. G., & Frederick, D. A. (2010). The science of sex appeal: An evolutionary perspective. Review of General Psychology, 14, 240–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Galperin, A., Haselton, M. G., Frederick, D. A., Poore, J., von Hippel, W., Buss, D. M., et al. (2013). Sexual regret: Evidence for evolved sex differences. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 1145–1161.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gangestad, S. W., & Simpson, J. A. (2000). The evolution of human mating: Trade-offs and strategic pluralism. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23, 573–644.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gillespie, B. J., Lever, J., Frederick, D. A., & Royce, T. (2014). Close adult friendships, gender, and the life cycle. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. doi:10.1177/0265407514546977.Google Scholar
  30. Gosling, S. D., Vazire, S., Srivastava, S., & John, O. P. (2004). Should we trust web based studies? A comparative analysis of sex preconceptions about internet questionnaires. American Psychologist, 59, 93–104.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gray, P. B., & Frederick, D. A. (2012). Body image and body type preferences in St. Kitts, Caribbean: A cross-cultural comparison with U.S. samples regarding attitudes towards muscularity, body fat, and breast size. Evolutionary Psychology, 10, 631–655.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Green, M. C., & Sabini, J. (2006). Gender, socioeconomic status, age, and jealousy: Emotional responses to infidelity in a national sample. Emotion, 6, 330–334.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hanson Sobraske, K. N., Gaulin, S. J. C., & Boster, J. S. (2014). Functional variation in sensitivity to cues that a partner is cheating with a rival. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43, 1267–1279.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Harris, C. R. (2002). Sexual and romantic jealousy in heterosexual and homonsexual adults. Psychological Science, 13, 7–12.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Harris, C. R. (2003). Sex differences in sexual jealousy, including self-report data, psychophysiological data, interpersonal violence, and morbid jealousy. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 7, 102–128.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Harris, C. R., & Darby, R. S. (2010). Jealousy in adulthood. In S. Hart & M. Legerstee (Eds.), Handbook of jealousy: Theory, research, and multidisciplinary approaches (pp. 547–571). West Sussex, UK: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hrdy, S. B. (2008). Cooperative breeding and the paradox of facultative fathering. In R. Bridges (Ed.), The neurobiology of the parental brain (pp. 407–416). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  38. Hurtado, A. M., Hill, K., Kaplan, H., & Hurtado, I. (1992). Tradeoffs between female food acquisition and child care among Hiwi and Ache forages. Human Nature, 3, 185–216.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kaplan, H. S., & Gangestad, S. W. (2005). Life history theory and evolutionary psychology. In D. M. Buss (Ed.), The handbook of evolutionary psychology (pp. 68–95). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  40. Kaplan, H. S., Hill, K. R., Hurtado, A. M., & Lancaster, J. B. (2001). The embodied capital theory of human evolution. In P. T. Ellison (Ed.), Reproductive ecology and human evolution (pp. 293–318). Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  41. Lancaster, J. B., Kaplan, H., Hill, K., & Hurtado, A. M. (2000). The evolution of life history, intelligence and diet among chimpanzees and human foragers. In F. Tonneau & N. S. Thompson (Eds.), Perspective in ethology: Evolution, culture, and behavior (pp. 47–72). New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. LaSala, M. C. (2004). Monogamy of the heart: Extradyadic sex and gay male couples. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 17, 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lever, J., Frederick, D. A., Laird, K., & Sadeghi-Azar, L. (2007). Tall women’s satisfaction with their height: General population data challenge assumptions behind medical interventions to stunt girls’ growth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 40, 192–194.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lever, J., Frederick, D. A., & Peplau, L. A. (2006). Does size matter? Men’s and women’s views on penis size across the lifespan. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 7, 129–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mace, R. (2000). Evolutionary ecology of human life history. Animal Behaviour, 59, 1–10.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Marlowe, F. (2003). A critical period for provisioning by Hadza men: Implications for pair bonding. Evolution and Human Behavior, 24, 217–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McAnulty, R. D., & Brineman, J. M. (2007). Infidelity in dating relationships. Annual Review of Sex Research, 18, 94–114.Google Scholar
  48. NBC News. (2012). Media Kit. NBCNews.com. Retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com/id/31066137/. Accessed 24 March 2013.
  49. Neel, J. V., & Weiss, K. M. (1975). The genetic structure of a tribal population, the Yanomama Indians. XII. Biodemographic studies. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 42, 25–51.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Peplau, L. A., Frederick, D. A., Yee, C., Maisel, N., Lever, J., & Ghavami, N. (2009). Body image satisfaction in heterosexual, gay, and lesbian adults. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 713–725.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sagarin, B. J., Becker, D. V., Guadagno, R. E., Nicastle, L. D., & Millevoi, A. (2003). Sex differences (and similarities) in jealousy: The moderating influence of infidelity experience and sexual orientation of the infidelity. Evolution and Human Behavior, 24, 17–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sagarin, B. J., Martin, A. L., Coutinho, S. A., Edlund, J. E., Patel, L., Skowronski, J. J., et al. (2012). Sex differences in jealousy: A meta-analytic examination. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33, 595–614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Scelza, B. A. (2011). Female choice and extra-pair paternity in a traditional human population. Biology Letters, 7, 889–891.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Scelza, B. A. (2014). Jealousy in a small-scale, natural fertility populations: The roles of paternity, investment and love in jealous response. Evolution and Human Behavior, 35, 103–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sear, R., & Mace, R. (2008). Who keeps children alive? A review of the effects of kin on child survival. Evolution and Human Behavior, 29, 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Shackelford, T. K., Voracek, M., Schmitt, D. P., Buss, D. M., Weekes-Shackelford, V. A., & Michalski, R. L. (2004). Romantic jealousy in early adulthood and in later life. Human Nature, 15, 283–300.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Shenk, M. K., & Scelza, B. A. (2012). Paternal investment and status-related child outcomes: Timing of a father’s death affects offspring success. Journal of Biosocial Science, 44, 549–569.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Smith, E. A., Mulder, M. B., & Hill, K. (2001). Controversies in the evolutionary social sciences: A guide for the perplexed. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 16, 128–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Snyder, J. K., Fessler, D. M. T., Tiokhin, L., Frederick, D. A., Lee, S. W., & Navarette, C. D. (2011). Trade-offs in a dangerous world: Women’s fear of crime predicts preferences for aggressive and formidable mates. Evolution and Human Behavior, 32, 127–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Swami, V., Frederick, D. A., Aavik, T., Alcalay, L., Allik, J., Anderson, D., et al. (2010). The attractive female body weight and female body dissatisfaction in 26 countries across 10 world regions: Results of the International Body Project I. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 309–325.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Tafoya, M. A., & Spitzberg, B. H. (2007). The dark side of infidelity: Its nature, prevalence, and communicative functions. In B. H. Spitzberg & W. R. Cupach (Eds.), The dark side of interpersonal communication (2nd ed., pp. 201–242). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  62. Tagler, M. J. (2010). Sex differences in jealousy: Comparing the influence of previous infidelity among college students and adults. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1, 353–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Treger, S., & Sprecher, S. (2010). The influences of sociosexuality and attachment style on reactions to emotional versus sexual infidelity. Journal of Sex Research, 48, 413–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Voracek, M., Fisher, M., & Shackelford, T. K. (2009). Sex differences in subjective estimates of non-paternity rates in Austria. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 652–656.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Walker, R. S., Flinn, M. V., & Hill, K. (2010). Evolutionary history of partible paternity in lowland South America. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 107, 19195–19200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Winterhalder, B., & Smith, E. A. (2000). Analyzing adaptive strategies: Human behavioral ecology at twenty-five. Evolutionary Anthropology Issues News and Reviews, 9, 51–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Zengel, B., Edlund, J. E., & Sagarin, B. J. (2012). Sex differences in jealousy in response to infidelity: Evaluation of demographic moderators in a national random sample. Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 47–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Crean School of Health & Life SciencesChapman UniversityOrangeUSA
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations