Date of Conferral

2019

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Virginia Salzer

Abstract

The current quantitative study examined perceptions of online infidelity using ANCOVA calculations to determine if significant differences existed between variables of gender, age, orientation. The study considered the applicability of sexual strategy theory (SST) in today's culture and whether it remains relevant in current to today's relationships. SST and previous research suggested a clear trend in differences in perceptions of infidelity based on gender and age, with more mixed results in differences based on sexuality. This study expanded previous research by surveying 148 younger and older demographics, as well as men and women who are in opposite-sex and same-sex relationships. Results indicated no significant differences between emerging adults (21–29 years) and adults (30-45 years), same-sex and heterosexual couples. These findings challenge the applicability of SST to modern day relationships but need to be interpreted carefully due to several limitations of this study including unequal representation of men and same-sex couples. These findings can be considered when addressing online infidelity in individual or couple's counseling. A better understanding of the individual differences in the definition of infidelity has important positive social change implications of showing how online behaviors may affect beliefs on the difficult subject of emotional and sexual infidelity in relationships. Further studies with a larger study group as well as studies on how all media may change cultural values would be useful.

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