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Swinging: A test of two theories and a proposed new model


One objective was to test two of the major theories of swinging. The first, rooted in the concept of marginality, is based on the idea that swingers are relatively new to their communities and to the middle class. The second has argued that swingers are more likely to be less attached to the community and the institutions in society. A third theory takes a more social psychological approach, viewing swingers within an “emergent” situation. However, this approach does not include any predisposing factors. A second objective, therefore, was to analyze the effects of a predisposing variable thought to be important in swinging—jealousy.

A group of 114 swingers, along with a control group of 114 nonswingers, responded to a questionnaire containing a number of demographic and attitudinal items. Results indicated that swingers, compared to nonswingers, had lived in their communities for fewer years, had moved more often within the past 5 years, and identified less with religion. However, swingers were no different on political identification or newness to the middle class. And, contrary to expectations, swingers belonged to more community organizations than nonswingers and responded in a less alienated fashion on two items. When jealousy was introduced, it was found that swingers perceived themselves as less jealous than nonswingers and that nonjealous swingers were more liberal than nonjealous nonswingers on a number of attitudinal items.

Finally, a social psychological model of swinging, including predisposing factors, is presented.

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Jenks, R.J. Swinging: A test of two theories and a proposed new model. Arch Sex Behav 14, 517–527 (1985).

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Key words

  • swinging
  • co-marital sex
  • mate swapping
  • jealousy