Current Psychology

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 299–311 | Cite as

Practicing What You Preach: Infidelity Attitudes as a Predictor of Fidelity

  • Jana HackathornEmail author
  • Brent A. Mattingly
  • Eddie M. Clark
  • Melinda J. B. Mattingly


The current studies used the Perceptions of Dating Infidelity Scale (PDIS), which identifies attitudes toward three types of behaviors indicative of cheating: Ambiguous, Deceptive, and Explicit behaviors, to predict actual infidelity behaviors. Participants reported their attitude toward these behaviors and then reported their willingness to engage in these behaviors with a hypothetical target (Study 1) and reported actually engaging in these behaviors over the course of one month (Study 2). Study 1 showed that attitudes for Ambiguous and Deceptive behaviors significantly predict a willingness to engage in these behaviors with a hypothetical target. Study 2 showed that attitudes toward Ambiguous behaviors significantly predict actual engagement in Ambiguous behaviors during the course of one month.


Romantic relationships Infidelity Monogamous relationships 


  1. Aron, A., Aron, E. N., & Smollen, D. (1992). Inclusion of other in the self and the structure of interpersonal closeness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 596–612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Atkins, D. C., Baucom, D. H., & Jacobson, N. S. (2001). Understanding infidelity: correlates in a national random sample. Journal of Family Psychology, 15, 735–749.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barta, W. D., & Kiene, S. M. (2005). Motivations for infidelity in heterosexual dating couples: the roles of gender, personality differences, and sociosexual orientation. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 22, 339–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Buss, D. M., & Shackelford, T. K. (1997). Susceptibility to infidelity in the first year of marriage. Journal of Research in Personality, 31, 193–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Buunk, B. P. (1995). Sex, self-esteem, dependency and extradyadic sexual experience as related to jealousy responses. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 12, 147–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cacioppo, J. T., & Petty, R. E. (1982). The need for cognition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42, 116–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Conner, M. T., Perugini, M., O’Gorman, R., Ayres, K., & Prestwich, A. (2007). Relations between implicit and explicit measures of attitude and measures of behavior: evidence of moderation by individual difference variables. Personality Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 1727–1740.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Daly, M., & Wilson, M. (1988). Evolutionary social psychology and family homicide. Science, 242, 519–524.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davidson, A. R., & Jaccard, J. J. (1979). Variables that moderate the attitude-behavior relation: results of a longitudinal survey. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1364–1376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Drigotas, S. M., Safstrom, C. A., & Gentilia, T. (1999). An investment model prediction of dating infidelity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 509–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Feldman, S. S., & Cauffman, E. (1999). Your cheatin’ heart: attitudes, behaviors, and correlates of sexual betrayal in late adolescents. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 9, 227–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Glass, S., & Wright, T. L. (1985). Sex differences in type of extramarital involvement and marital dissatisfaction. Sex Roles, 12, 1101–1119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Glass, S., & Wright, T. L. (1992). Justifications for extramarital relationships: the association between attitudes, behaviors, and gender. Journal of Sex Research, 29, 361–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hackathorn, J. (2009). Beyond touching: the evolutionary theory and computer mediated infidelity. The New School Psychology Bulletin, 6, 29–34.Google Scholar
  15. Hall, J. H., & Fincham, F. D. (2009). Psychological distress: precursor or consequence of dating infidelity? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 143–159.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Johnson, R. E. (1970). Extramarital sexual intercourse: a methodological note. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 32, 449–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lawson, A. (1988). Adultery: an analysis of love and betrayal. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  18. Lewandowski, G. W., Jr., & Ackerman, R. A. (2006). Something’s missing: need fulfillment and self-expansion as predictors of susceptibility to infidelity. The Journal of Social Psychology, 146, 389–403.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lord, C. G., & Lepper, M. R. (1999). Attitude representation theory. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 265–343). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  20. Lydon, J., Pierce, T., & O’Regan, S. (1997). Coping with moral commitment to long term dating relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 104–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mattingly, B. A., Wilson, K., Clark, E. M., Bequette, A. W., & Weidler, D. J. (2010). Foggy faithfulness: relationship quality, religiosity, and the romantic cheating scale in an adult sample. Journal of Family Issues, 31, 1465–1480. doi: 10.1177/0192513X10362348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mattingly, B. A., Clark, E. M., Weidler, D. J., Bullock, M., Hackathorn, J., & Blankmeyer, K. (2011). Sociosexual orientation, commitment, and infidelity: a mediation analysis. Journal of Social Psychology, 151, 222–226. doi: 10.1080/00224540903536162.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McIntyre, R. B., Paulson, R. M., Lord, C. G., & Lepper, M. R. (2004). Effects of attitude action identification on congruence between attitudes and behavioral intentions toward social groups. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 1151–1164.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Merkle, E. R., & Richardson, R. A. (2000). April). Digital dating and virtual relating: conceptualizing computer mediated romantic relationships. Family Relations, 49(2), 187–193.Google Scholar
  25. Rusbult, C. E., Martz, J. M., & Agnew, C. R. (1998). The Investment Model scale: measuring commitment level, satisfaction level, quality of alternatives, and investment size. Personal Relationships, 5, 357–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Seal, D. W., Agostinelli, G., & Hannett, C. A. (1994). Extradyadic romantic involvement: moderating effects of sociosexuality and gender. Sex Roles, 3, 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Shackelford, T. K., & Buss, D. M. (1997). Cues to infidelity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 1034–1045.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sponaugle, G. C. (1989). Attitudes toward extramarital relations. In K. McKinney & S. Sprecher (Eds.), Human sexuality: the societal and interpersonal context (pp. 187–209). Westport: Ablex.Google Scholar
  29. 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). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  30. Thompson, A. P. (1983). Extramarital sex: a review of research literature. Journal of Sex Research, 19, 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Treas, J., & Geissen, D. (2000). Sexual infidelity among married and cohabiting Americans. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 48–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Vangelisti, A. L., & Gerstenberger, M. (2004). Communication and marital infidelity. In J. Duncome, K. Harrison, G. Allan, & D. Marsden (Eds.), The state of affairs: Explorations in infidelity and commitment (pp. 59–78). Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  33. Weis, D. L., & Felton, J. R. (1987). Marital exclusivity and the potential for future marital conflict. Social Work, 32, 45–49.Google Scholar
  34. Whisman, M. A., Gordon, K. G., & Chatav, Y. (2007). Predicting sexual infidelity in a population-based sample of married individuals. Journal of Family Psychology, 21, 320–324.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Whitely, C. H., & Whitely, W. M. (1967). Sex and morals. New York: Basic Books, Inc.Google Scholar
  36. Wicker, A. (1969). Attitudes versus actions: the relationship of verbal and overt behavioral responses to attitude objects. Journal of Social Issues, 25, 41–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wiederman, M. W. (1997). Extramarital sex: prevalence and correlates in a national survey. Journal of Sex Research, 34(2), 167–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wiederman, M. W., & Allgeier, E. R. (1993). Gender differences in sexual jealousy: adaptationist or social learning explanation? Ethology and Sociobiology, 14, 115–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wiederman, M. W., & Hurd, C. (1999). Extradyadic involvement during dating. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 16, 265–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wilson, K., Mattingly, B. A., Clark, E. M., Weidler, D. J., & Bequette, A. W. (2011). The gray area: exploring attitudes toward infidelity and the development of the Perceptions of Dating Infidelity Scale. Journal of Social Psychology, 151, 63–86.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Yarab, P. E., Allgeier, E. R., & Sensibaugh, C. C. (1999). Looking deeper: extradyadic behaviors, jealousy, and perceived unfaithfulness in hypothetical dating relationships. Personal Relationships, 6, 305–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jana Hackathorn
    • 1
    Email author
  • Brent A. Mattingly
    • 2
  • Eddie M. Clark
    • 3
  • Melinda J. B. Mattingly
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMurray State UniversityMurrayUSA
  2. 2.Ashland UniversityAshlandUSA
  3. 3.Saint Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA

Personalised recommendations