Dating relationships infidelity
Attachment theory (e.g., Mikulincer & Shaver, 2003) provides one useful framework for addressing this goal.According to that theory, intimates develop mental representations of the availability of close others that lead to strong cognitive and behavioral patterns of responding to those others.
Finally, attachment insecurity is associated with various other individual differences in personality that are also associated with attachment and infidelity.
For example, agreeableness is negatively associated with attachment insecurity (Shaver & Brennan, 1992) and low levels of agreeableness are associated with an increased likelihood of infidelity (Schmitt, 2004).
We are aware of three published reports describing a total of 10 studies that have addressed the role of attachment in predicting infidelity.
De Wall and colleagues (2011) described eight studies indicating that attachment avoidance, but not attachment anxiety, was associated with (a) a greater interest in alternatives and/or (b) infidelity; Bogaert and Sadava (2002) demonstrated that attachment anxiety was positively associated with infidelity, particularly in women; and Allen and Baucom (2004) reported that (a) attachment avoidance was positively associated with the number of extra-dyadic partners reported by male undergraduates, (b) attachment anxiety was positively associated with the number of extra-dyadic partners reported by female undergraduates, and (c) attachment avoidance trended toward being associated with the number of extra-dyadic partners reported by married individuals.
Accordingly, the psychological characteristics of those who commit infidelity in marriage may be different than the psychological characteristics of those who commit infidelity in dating relationships.
Unfortunately, the three studies that examined the implications of attachment insecurity and infidelity among married people were inconclusive.Individuals high in attachment avoidance tend to be chronically less committed to their relationships (De Wall et al., 2011) and have more permissive sexual attitudes (Brennan & Shaver, 1995; Gentzler & Kerns, 2004; Hazan, Zeifman, & Middleton, 1994).Given that both tendencies are associated with infidelity (Drigotas, Safstrom, & Gentilia, 1999; Smith, 1994), avoidantly-attached individuals may be more likely to engage in infidelity as well.One way in which married partners differ from partners in dating relationships is that married partners tend to be more committed to their relationships (e.g., Stanley & Markman, 1992).Such differences may emerge because married partners are more likely to engage in behaviors that lead to greater commitment (e.g., make a public declaration of faithfulness, have children together, share financial obligations) (see Rusbult, 1980) and/or because greater levels of commitment lead to the decision to marry in the first place.Nevertheless, several qualities of these studies limit conclusions regarding the role of attachment insecurity in predicting infidelity in marriage.