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Demographic Characteristics and their Effects on Attitudes Regarding Sexual Infidelity
Siobahn Dermody
15 May 2013
Soc 240

Sexual infidelity or adultery is defined as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a partner other than a lawful spouse (thefreedictionary.com). Overall, 90% Americans disapprove of sexual infidelity in marriage; however, 15-25% of married men and women reported having intercourse with someone outside of their marriage (Treas & Giesen 2000; Wiederman 1997). According to Prins, Buunk, and Van Yperpen people in unhappy relationships report a greater desire and involvement in extramarital sex (Dollahite & Lambert 2007, cited Prins Buunk, & Van Yperpen 1993). The topic of sexual infidelity is important to research and discuss because several studies suggest that extramarital affairs are the number one cause of divorce (Dollahite & Lambert 2007). There are three types of extramarital relationships: 1) emotional involvement (commonly associated with women), 2) sexual involvement (commonly associated with men), and 3) combined type, which includes sexual and emotional involvement (Glass & Wright 1992). According to Johnson (1970) and Murstein (1974), there are two main justification factors for extramarital sex, individual motivation, (sexual reasoning) and marital dissatisfaction (Glass & Wright 1992).
With the use of national surveys, several studies have identified demographic risk factors for sexual infidelity including: gender, age, race, education, socioeconomic status, and religiosity (Dollahite & Lambert 2007; Treas & Giesen 2000; Wiederman 1997). Several studies also show that sexual infidelity permissiveness is linked to liberal political and religious ideologies (Weis & Slosnerick 1981; Dollahite & Lambert 2007). Dollahite and Lambert (2007) state in their study that high religious influences are generally the strongest predictor of less permissive sexual attitudes, primarily within Christianity,

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