Forgiveness or breakup: Sex differences in responses to a partner's infidelity

Todd K. Schakelford, David M. Buss, Kevin Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

102 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Infidelities-sexual, emotional, or both-afflict many long-term romantic relationships. When a person discovers a partner's betrayal, a major decision faced is to forgive the partner and remain together or to terminate the relationship. Because men and women have confronted different adaptive problems over evolutionary history associated with different forms of infidelity, we hypothesised the existence of sex differences in which aspects of infidelity would affect the likelihood of forgiveness or breakup. We tested this hypothesis using forced-choice dilemmas in which participants (N = 256) indicated how difficult it would be to forgive the partner and how likely they would be to break up with the partner, depending on the nature of the infidelity. Results support the hypothesis that men, relative to women: (a) find it more difficult to forgive a sexual infidelity than an emotional infidelity; and (b) are more likely to terminate a current relationship following a partner's sexual infidelity than an emotional infidelity. The Discussion provides directions for future work on the determinants of breakup and the psychology of forgiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-307
Number of pages9
JournalCognition and Emotion
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 27 2002

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Forgiveness
Sex Characteristics
Sexual Partners
History
Psychology
Sex Differences
Sexual
Emotion
Direction compound

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Schakelford, Todd K. ; Buss, David M. ; Bennett, Kevin. / Forgiveness or breakup : Sex differences in responses to a partner's infidelity. In: Cognition and Emotion. 2002 ; Vol. 16, No. 2. pp. 299-307.
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Forgiveness or breakup : Sex differences in responses to a partner's infidelity. / Schakelford, Todd K.; Buss, David M.; Bennett, Kevin.

In: Cognition and Emotion, Vol. 16, No. 2, 27.03.2002, p. 299-307.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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