Upset Over Sexual versus Emotional Infidelity Among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Adults
- 3.2k Downloads
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.
KeywordsJealousy Infidelity Gender differences Evolutionary psychology Sexual orientation
We would like to thank MSNBC.com and iVillage.com for access to the dataset for the Love, Lust, and Loyalty Survey. Both authors contributed equally to the preparation of this article. The order of authorship was determined by a flip of the coin.
- Andersson, M. (1994). Sexual selection. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Boyd, R. T., & Richerson, P. (2005). The origin and evolution of cultures. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- McAnulty, R. D., & Brineman, J. M. (2007). Infidelity in dating relationships. Annual Review of Sex Research, 18, 94–114.Google Scholar
- NBC News. (2012). Media Kit. NBCNews.com. Retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com/id/31066137/. Accessed 24 March 2013.
- 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
- 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