New analysis gives insights into the connections between sociosexuality, relationship high quality and infidelity

Psychological research has shown that a lower quality relationship – one that lacks intimacy, commitment, and satisfaction – is associated with a higher likelihood of cheating on the partner. According to a new study, this effect is partly driven by the openness to casual sex in people with lower quality relationships. The study was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Infidelity is more common than we might think, and when fraud does occur it leaves lasting negative consequences for both the victim and the perpetrator. It is well documented that cheating is more likely to occur in lower quality relationships, and a team of researchers wanted to find out exactly why.

“I was curious why some people are more likely to commit infidelity than others. Once we understand the risk factors that drive infidelity, we can develop intervention programs to prevent potential infidelity and its negative impact on individual wellbeing, ”said study author Betül Urganci, a PhD student at Cornell University.

Urganci and her colleagues wondered whether sociosexuality might be driving the link between relationship quality and infidelity. A person’s sociosexual orientation describes their desires, attitudes, and behaviors towards casual sex and is solely a predictor of intentions to become unfaithful.

The researchers suggested that lower quality relationships might make people more unrestrained in casual sex and, in turn, more likely to cheat on their partners.

To investigate this, Urganci and colleagues analyzed survey responses from 309 Americans in exclusive relationships. The sample covered a wide age range with participants between 20 and 70 years of age. In addition to demographic indicators, the questionnaires contained 18 items that assessed the quality of the relationship and 7 items that assessed a person’s intentions to be unfaithful. The surveys also assessed participants’ behaviors, attitudes, and desires about unrestricted sex.

Consistent with previous studies, respondents with a more unconstrained sociosexual orientation reported greater intent to cheat on their partners. Men were more likely to have unconstrained sociosexual tendencies and were more likely to show intent to cheat on their partners.

Also in line with previous research, respondents with higher quality relationships were less likely to intend to cheat on their partners. In addition, the mediation analysis showed that the sociosexual orientation partially explains this connection between relationship quality and infidelity. People with better relationships had more restricted sociosexual orientations and, in turn, showed less intent to cheat.

The researchers also found that it was participants’ behaviors and desires related to casual sex that conveyed this link between relationship quality and intent to cheat – but not their attitudes towards casual sex. The study’s authors speculate that people’s sociosexual attitudes likely reflect their moral views and cultural assumptions about unbound sex, which are less easily influenced by relationship quality.

“People who are less happy in their romantic relationships tend to have greater intentions for infidelity. This connection is due in part to the tendency of individuals to enter into non-committal sexual relationships, ”Urganci told PsyPost.

Urganci and her team say their results show the importance of considering relationship context when investigating fraudulent behavior. In particular, the study suggests that a person’s sociosexuality is at least one way that the context of the relationship can influence the intention to infidelity.

“We should be careful not to imply a causal relationship, as the relationship quality and sociosexual orientation in the current study were not manipulated experimentally,” explained Urganci. “Also, similar to our study, the effect of sociosexuality on infidelity has been found in several studies, but future research should examine its independence from possible confusions such as sexual satisfaction and long-term relationship desires.”

While the results provide a solid foundation for future research, the researchers say that follow-up studies should take steps to control possible confounders that could obscure the relationships being studied, such as: B. Sexual satisfaction. Because infidelity can be psychologically devastating for couples and their families, interventions that address warning signs of fraudulent behavior can be helpful. According to this study, unrestricted sociosexuality among those in poor quality relationships could be such a warning sign.

The study “Better relationships close the wandering eye: Sociosexual orientation mediates the connection between the quality of relationships and intentions to be unfaithful” was written by Betül Urganci, Barış Sevi and Ezgi Sakman.

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