Sex Differences In Response To Infidelity

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Question :

University: Swinburne University of Technology

PSY20016: Social Psychology


Sex difference in responses to emotional and sexual infidelity.

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Answer :


The moot objective of the study suite is to confront the axioms of evolutionary adaptation that happens to pursue a holistic approach to characterize the notions of sexual infidelity. This consideration resonates with several discourses of gender studies as well where the narrators intend to exhibit the prevalent discrepancy in terms of treatment that underlies across the upbringing of two sexes as the column that advocates the respective infidelities. In the current context, the academic discourses intend to coin it as jealousy system, which they depicted as the drive that governs the distinct responses regarding infidelity.

The prevalent discourse is holistic since it tends to generalize the impulse regarding infidelity across the sexes.This is why this study still intends to verify the axioms of attachment styles while heeding critically on the predominant notions that paves toward the academic discourses that categorizes “sex” as a dominant factor of interpreting immediate responses. In order to pursue that purpose seamlessly, this study suite seeks assistance to the immediate simulations of ECR (Experiences in Close relationship) scale while tabulating those across the four categories of Bartholomew and Horowitz’s four categories of attachment style. Moreover, the study suite employs a 2 by 4 experimental design to consolidate the credibility of the results.


Context of research:

Infidelity can be referred as the dimension of disloyalty prevalent within a partnership and which is potential enough to lead it towards adultery. The participants of a union is typically called to pursue if he/she is found to be involved in sexual encounters or emotional attachment with some other person except their spouses or partners (Frederick & Fales, 2016). Thus, it is evident that the integral exponents of infidelity are sexual infidelity and emotional infidelity. However, several attempts have been made to generalize the vulnerability of a particular drive prior to sexes, the aesthetic impact of distress and trauma appear identical across the sexes. 

Several scholarly articles suggest the prime mover of this drive is the discrepancy of evolutionary adaptation that the different sexes inherit during their physical and intellectual upbringing. These discrepancies is supposed to cater the generation of jealousy system which most of the academic scholars happen to designate as the index to anticipate the differences of response across sexes regarding infidelity.

Both versions of the infidelities can be superimposed to facilitate the birth of a intense infidelity drive since it appear credible to comment that without a nominal emotional attachment it is impossible to be involved in adultery (Kruger, Fisher & Fitzgerald, 2015)

Most of the academic contents that has been consulted regarding the research resonates on the same verdict that women is more prone to be affected by emotional fidelity as compared to men and the men are more vulnerable to be shattered by sexual infidelity as compared to women. Thus, the term ‘sex’ has been relatively more emphasized as compared to the term ‘gender’ since it the infidelities are considered as intensely biological complexes that can only cause those kind of relationship behaviours.  

Discussion of findings

As it was mentioned earlier that women are considered to be more prone to be shattered by emotional infidelity and the counterpart by the rest, it has been extensively quoted in the pertinent articles that the drive of jealousy system chiefly causes these sort of relationshipbehaviour. The columns of apprehension regarding jealousy system is derived from the simulations proposed by Buss et al. 2014 that establishes the foundation of evolutionary adaption that intends to formulate that “ men and women are hardwired to respond differently”. The challenges that women face in terms of jealousy system is that they intend to ensure the seamless survival of their progeny and, thus, they are more vulnerable to be affected by emotional infidelity. On the other hand, as most of the men appear conditioned and abstinent to invest their biological progeny, they happen to be shattered easily by the wrath of sexual infidelity. Thus, it can be concluded the urge is immensely biological that make the aftermath out of distress resemble irrespective of sexes (Leeker & Carlozzi, 2014).

Discussion of theoretical accounts:

Theory of Evolutionary Adaption: This theory intends to point the inevitable discrepancy of treatments that men and women experience during the phase of physical and intellectual upbringing as the foundation that facilitates the establishment of different demeanours towards the equivalent counterparts (Kanazawa, 2017). This is supposed to frame the integral components of the individual jealousy systems that is naturally different by the virtue of the disparities prevalent in upbringing behaviour. Furthermore, these jealousy systems seem to govern the nuances of infidelity that every individual is vulnerable to exhibit to their counterparts (Panaghi, Maleki, Zabihzadeh, Poshtmashhadi & Soltaninezhad, 2014).

Experiences in Close Relationship Scale: This scale is extensively used to examine the manner of attachment against some parameters that taps the differences across several relationships. Kelly Brennan, Catherine Clark and Phillip Shaver in the year 1998 that appear to categorize the participants of this test within four groups and within two scales regarding the grades of their relationship status devise this (Guitar, Geher, Kruger, Garcia, Fisher & Fitzgerald, 2017). 

Four categories of attachment style: Bartholomew and Horowitz suggest this model and the base of the model is framed upon the outcomes of an extensive questionnaire that the duo prepared to illustrate the attachment styles of the adults (Brenning, Van Petegem, Vanhalst & Soenens, 2014). While conducting the experiment, the duo have been able to categorize the participants reckoning to their nuances of attachment into four segments and those can be categorized as secure, anxious, dismissive and fearful

Role of Attachment style:

As per the research scholars of the discipline; attachment style is the factor that predominantly governs the pattern which dictates the vulnerability of a particular sex to be more distressed regarding a particular kind of infidelity (Dunn & McLean, 2015). In accordance with the pertinent literature that appear to suggest that the men are supposed to be more shattered by the trauma of sexual infidelity as compared to the women who are more prone to be distressed by the impact of emotional infidelity (Morey, Gentzler, Creasy, Oberhauser & Westerman, 2013). Scholars like Buss (2015) seem to conclude the fact that in terms of jealousy, the attachment style acts as a moderate force across the differences of sex. On the other hand, Bartholomew and his colleagues seem to categorize the participants as;

  • Secure
  • Anxious- preoccupied
  • Dismissive- avoidant
  • Fearful- avoidant


The moot aims of the current research suite can be categorized as follows;

  • To examine whether the responses regarding the sorts of infidelity differs regarding across the different sexes
  • To examine the fact that whether attachment style is a potent element to moderate the sex differences in terms of jealousy

Research Questions

  1. Do      the responses of men and women differ regarding the sorts of infidelity      that they are vulnerable to be shattered of?
  2. Do      the responses of men and women differ within the frequency of attachment      styles?
  3. Do      the attachment styles are reliable moderator to categorize their responses      based upon the vulnerability of them to be shattered of?
  4. Do      each of the attachment style varies in terms of the sort of fidelity that      they are vulnerable to be shattered of?


H1: Attachment styles are the reliable moderator of sex differences in terms of jealousy systems.

H0: Attachment styles does not influence the sex differences in terms of jealousy systems.



2 x 4 experimental design: The research design (consists of two IVs) intends to plot the participant sexes against the four attachment styles and to cross-tabulate their responses in order to deduce the foundation of data analyses. This research design is empirically named as 2 x 4 experimental design since the participant sexes are 2 in number; that are male and female whereas 4 signifies the sorts of attachment styles; that are Secure, Preoccupied, Dismissive and Fearful. Since the cell of the master table consists of different metric of participants against an unique attachment style, this experimental design is also coined as between groups design.

Specification of dependent variable/variables

The exclusive dependent variable of the current research is the perceived proportion of impact of the governing sorts of infidelity. In order to accomplish the remarks regarding this enquiry, the participants are instructed to participate in a binary system of options which are respectively set in accordance with the sorts of infidelity; that are sexual or emotional (In the system, sexual infidelity is coded as 1 and emotional infidelity is coded as 2)


Nature of the individualsThis enquiry has been resolved by asking the participants abut their sexes and expected responses are categorized as male, female and others. The others option has been included in the suite in order to tap the responses of intersex participants. In this regard, “sex” in terms of a biological entity of identity have been used instead of the term gender due to the limited scope of the research suite as the term “gender” is profoundly loaded with other enquiries such as sexual orientation. However, the sexual entity has been imbibed in this research suite as an independent variable since it flawlessly abides by the apprehensions and axioms of the theory of evolutionary adaption (Fraley, Hudson, Heffernan & Segal, 2015). Though the intersex participants are allowed to participate in the research suite (<1% of the total participants), the researchers are unable to analyse their responses due to the constraints of the experimental design.


Prime conceptsThe principal concept that governs the intellectual aptitude of the researcher, apart from contributing to the formulation of major independent variables, is the apprehensions of evolutionary adaptation since it considers “sex” as a governing variable that encourages different remarks on an identical enquiry regarding infidelity. Apart from that, the researcher seeks the credibility of the four categories of attachment styles as a significant regulator of remarks across different sexes. Moreover, it purposively deployed the ECR scale to scrutinize the behavioural patterns prevalent across diverse partnerships. On the same note, the Four categories of Attachment style (proposed by Bartholomew and Horowitz) has also been deployed further to judge the validity of the apprehensions deduced from the deployment of ECR scale.    


The procedure of the survey can be narrowed down as follows;

  • The entire experiment has been conducted via a virtual survey platform called Qualtrics
  • In the initial phase, the participants has been directed towards a study-like in order to get the peck of their consent
  • Willing participants are obliged to provide moot demographic information along with their sexual inclination and relationship status
  • Immediate feedbacks have been expected from the participants after they are endowed with the scenario and consequent options
  • Participants from Research Experience programme have been endowed with the debriefing screen at the end of the survey suite 

Randomisation: In terms of the selection technique of the samples to participate in the survey suite, Randomisation has been opted since it is the best method that ensures the removal of the bias that is vulnerable to evoke while interpreting the responses.


Q.1 It has been considered as an axiom that women are more prone to be shattered of emotional infidelity as compared to the male, which are supposed to be distressed of sexual infidelity. Thus, the hypothesis here is there exist different opinions regarding the vulnerability of infidelity across the different sexes. From the results, it is evident that this hypothesis is true along with H1. It has been observed that, in the survey, a male majority of 65.2% have chosen sexual infidelity as more distressing. On the other hand, the Chi-square value suggests that the attitudes of the different sexes vary across different infidelities also validates the hypothesis.

Q.2 As per the results, the 2 x 4 experimental design suggest that the proportion of males that has been observed to lie into an unique category of attachment style is identical with the proportion of females. Moreover, the chi-square test happens to exhibit a non-significant answer that also consolidates the previous apprehension. Thus, the hypothesis of this enquiry is not valid.

Q.3 It is very evident from the Chi-square test that the notion of attachment style can be adorned as a reliable indicator of the sort of infidelity against its impact. In the same regard, the cross tabulation sheet also validates the apprehensions deduced from the Chi-square test. Thus, it has been observed that in terms of attachment styles, sexual along with emotional infidelity is the most distressing across the sorts of infidelity.

Q.4 The results of this enquiry can be seen as the extension of the first question. The Chi-square results suggests that attachment style can be a reliable indicator of the differences of response across different sexes since the results are asymptotically significant.          


The essence of this research suite appear to be very purposive since it intends to judge the validity of the popular consideration of the theory of evolutionary adaptation that responses against the different sorts of infidelity is inevitably going to be different due to the different upbringing account of the jealousy systems across different sexes. In this regard, the findings seem to suggest that it is true (Schimmenti et al. 2014). Moreover, it was part of the prediction that suggests that women are more prone to be shattered by emotional fidelity as compared to the men who are expected to be more distressed of the notions of sexual infidelity. In this regard, the first hypothesis appears to be validated by the apprehensions acquired from the interpretation of the findings. As the finding suggest, the apprehension correct consolidating the columns of the axioms (Uysal, 2016)

Furthermore, the employment of ECR scale along with the Four categories of attachment style is to cater the nuances of the enquiry that intends to proclaim the attachment style as a reliable indicator to judge the vulnerabilities against several infidelities across the different sexes. The findings, in this regard also seem to suggest that it is also true (Marks, Trafimow & Rice, 2014). The findings associated with the re4search question seem to consolidate the above statement since it has been observed that the percentage of men lying in a n unique category of attachment style happens to identical of the proportion of female lying on the same category. The probable explanation of such kind of inclination exhibited by the findings appear to consolidate the grand axiom regarding the moot enquiry that women are more vulnerable to be impacted by the notions of emotional fidelity as compared to the men. This is possibly because the women appear more concerned about the survival of their progeny as compared to their basic instinct. On the other hand, men are prone to be shattered by the trauma of sexual infidelity since they are only concerned to invest in their biological descendant. This is considered as a potent explanation of such inclination since it also consolidates the audacity of the researcher to opt sex as the sole dependent variable of the study. It can also be mentioned over here that the term gender has been consciously averted in this regard just to emphasize on the biological impulses that advocates the immediate responses regarding the conducted survey. 

The findings of the third question urge for a greater deal of attention since this is the only response that seem to violate the essence of the hypothesis. In this result, since the Chi-square results seem to suggest that attachment style is a significant regulator that possesses the capacity to influence the likely responses of the participants. Moreover, the associated cross-tabulations are supposed to address that which attachment styles are compatible with which sort of infidelity.

In summary, it can be concluded that, the hypothesis that has been assumed here to be justified is justified accordingly. The results of the current study suite extensively suggest that the four categories of attachment styles bear compatibility against the sorts of attachment styles that has been prospectively elaborated here. Moreover, the popular axiom of evolutionary adaptation that intends to designate that the inevitably different jealousy system is supposed to drive the responses across different sexes. It has been extensively discussed in the prevalent literature that backs the intellectual aptitude of the current study suite that inherent discrepancy that women face both in terms of physical and psychological upbringing is supposed to frame the respective jealousy systems accordingly. These jealousy systems seem to function as the prospective components of the categories of attachment style and due to that attachment style can be designated as a reliable index to anticipate responses across different sexes.