Current Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 572–578 | Cite as

Is Imagination of the Infidelity More Painful than Actual Infidelity?

  • Farid PazhoohiEmail author
  • Cátia Silva
  • Luís Pereira
  • Marco Oliveira
  • Paulo Santana
  • Rui Rodrigues
  • Joana Arantes


It has previously been reported that men and women are concerned with different aspects of infidelity. However, some researchers question the existence of such a sex difference. This discrepancy might happen because the intensity of emotions differs between those who have experienced infidelity and those who only imagine how they would feel if that happened. Additionally, the emotions that the betrayer experiences have been neglected in previous studies. Moreover, there has been no investigation regarding the differences between imaginative and actual emotions that someone experience regarding ones’ partner's or own’s infidelity. Therefore, the current study aimed to test the emotions that both men and women and both the betrayer and the victim of betrayal experience in the actual and the imaginative infidelities. Results showed that emotions were more intense while participants imagined infidelity than when they recalled an actual infidelity. Also, sex difference was larger in the imaginative infidelity.


Actual infidelity Emotion Imaginative infidelity Infidelity Sex difference 



This study was conducted at Psychology Research Centre (UID/PSI/01662/2013), University of Minho, and supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology and the Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education through national funds and co-financed by FEDER through COMPETE2020 under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007653). FP receives funding from FCT Portugal through grant SFRH/BD/114366/2016; JA receives funding from FCT Portugal through grant IF/01298/2014.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interests

Authors declare no conflict of interests.

Human Participants

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Farid Pazhoohi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cátia Silva
    • 1
  • Luís Pereira
    • 1
  • Marco Oliveira
    • 1
  • Paulo Santana
    • 1
  • Rui Rodrigues
    • 1
  • Joana Arantes
    • 1
  1. 1.Human Cognition Laboratory, School of PsychologyUniversity of MinhoBragaPortugal

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