Correlates and Contexts of Sexual Infidelity in American Adults Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Wagner, Brandon Grant
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology
  • This project includes three projects that use sexual infidelity as a point of entry to examine topics such as digital data collection, relationship context, causation, measurement, and relationship satisfaction. In the first chapter, I test a new potential source of data for exploratory social research. With current threats to survey research, namely declining response rates and limited financial support, developing new and reliable complementary data sources is of paramount importance. Using digitally derived data generated by respondent's normal online activities offers a potential solution to concerns with existing data sources as they are not dependent on recruiting willing subjects, do not typically require massive financial investment and may even allow better measures of respondent action and intention than self-report. I examine the potential of search engine databases, for social research in general, and for research on perceived sexual infidelity in particular. Using similarity of search term patterning, I identify potential correlates of perceived sexual infidelity. Validation of these correlations in survey data suggests that search engine databases can be a tool for future exploratory social research. My second chapter examines sexual infidelity across relationship contexts and explores whether sexual infidelity differs between married and cohabiting unions. Using a combination of design and analytic tools to separate selective and causal processes, I attempt understand the difference in reported rates of sexual infidelity between married and cohabiting individuals. My results are consistent with differences between marital and cohabiting sexual infidelity frequency resulting from selection into marriage. I also find that association between relationship context and sexual infidelity by testing whether various social, demographic, and relationship measures may have differ between relationship contexts. The last chapter focuses on the measuring relationship satisfaction. One problem with measuring whether relationships are good has been whether such measurement should include what happens in the relationship (description) or what the individual thinks of the relationship (evaluation). I suggest a solution for integrating descriptive and evaluative measures that models relationship satisfaction as a latent variable and varies the theorized causal pathways between relationship satisfaction and relationship description. Using sexual infidelity and perceived partner infidelity as the relationship descriptive behaviors, I demonstrate how such a model can be built, tested, and measured. Further extending this finding, I test whether sexual infidelity's influence on relationship satisfaction varies between marriage, cohabitation, and dating.
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  • In Copyright
  • Harris, Kathleen Mullan
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2013

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