Factors Influencing the Intended Likelihood of Exposing Sexual Infidelity

Arch Sex Behav. 2015 Aug;44(6):1697-704. doi: 10.1007/s10508-014-0469-x. Epub 2015 Feb 7.


There is a considerable body of literature on infidelity within romantic relationships. However, there is a gap in the scientific literature on factors influencing the likelihood of uninvolved individuals exposing sexual infidelity. Therefore, we devised an exploratory study examining a wide range of potentially relevant factors. Based in part on evolutionary theory, we anticipated nine potential domains or types of influences on the likelihoods of exposing or protecting cheaters, including kinship, strong social alliances, financial support, previous relationship behaviors (including infidelity and abuse), potential relationship transitions, stronger sexual and emotional aspects of the extra-pair relationship, and disease risk. The pattern of results supported these predictions (N = 159 men, 328 women). In addition, there appeared to be a small positive bias for participants to report infidelity when provided with any additional information about the situation. Overall, this study contributes a broad initial description of factors influencing the predicted likelihood of exposing sexual infidelity and encourages further studies in this area.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Deception*
  • Extramarital Relations / psychology*
  • Female
  • Friends
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Social Environment
  • Social Perception*
  • Truth Disclosure*