Study: Gender Plays Role in Reaction to Partner's Infidelity

The discovery of a partner's infidelity brings about a variety of emotions, including jealousy, betrayal, anger and hurt. But does it affect men and women differently?

According to a study by Barry Kuhle, an evolutionary psychologist and associate professor of psychology at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, reactions to the news of a partner's infidelity does indeed vary by gender.

Using observational data from 75 affair confrontations in the television show "Cheaters," student researchers analyzed partners' reactions when confronting their significant others about infidelities. Researchers found that 57 percent of men versus 29 percent of women were likely to ask questions about the sexual interactions, including, "Did you have sex with him/her?" or "Was he/she better than me in bed?" On the other hand, 71 percent of women, versus 43 percent of men, asked the cheating partner if he or she was in love with the other man or woman.

Critics say that reality TV is not a reliable basis for a study, as shows are often edited to be more dramatic or viewer-friendly. Kuhle asserts that despite concerns about the authenticity of reality TV, previous research, including the findings of a study published in the January 2010 edition of Psychological Science, supports the findings that men are more disturbed by their partner sleeping with another person, while women are more concerned with their partner forming an emotional bond with another person.
Molly B. Kenny
Founder and Principal Divorce Attorney
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