Behavioral Reactions to Emotional and Sexual Infidelity: Mate Abandonment Versus Mate Retention

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Abstract

This study tested the hypothesis that for men, sexual infidelity will be more associated with mate abandonment behaviors and emotional infidelity will be more associated with mate retention behaviors, and for women the pattern would reverse. Furthermore, we proposed that these effects would be caused by changes in the perceived mate value of the unfaithful partner. To test these hypotheses, male and female participants read a scenario that describes either an emotional or a sexual infidelity and indicated their likely response to the infidelity described in the scenario. As predicted, both men and women showed the expected asymmetrical behavioral choices in response to sexual and emotional infidelity with changes in the perceived mate value of the unfaithful partner acting as a mediator.

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