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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Are men and women really different? Social institutional approaches to infidelity Nair, Dixsha Shivani


Infidelity is often cited as the leading cause of marital dissolution. Moreover, previous research has focused on gender differences, relationship variables and other variables, such as religion and employment without establishing a comprehensive theoretical framework. To the extent that theories are established, they focus on the inherent differences between men and women. It is theorized that women and men approach infidelity differently due to different mating strategies. Men are more likely to commit adultery than women because they engage in short-term mating with multiple partners. Women, on the other hand, engage in long term mating and when they do have affairs, they are emotionally involved. However, current estimates of infidelity range from one to six percent and indicate that the vast majority of individuals do not approve of nor engage in extramarital sex. I argue that social institutions such as marriage, religion, and work inform both behaviour and attitudes regarding infidelity. These institutions establish norms and conventions, which also influence aspects of sex including infidelity. As such, the current study examines whether attitudes and behaviours regarding infidelity can be explained as the result of inherent differences between men and women or whether social institutions also play a role.

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