SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY

PSY30009

Assignment 2: Research Report

 Sex differences in responses to emotional and sexual infidelity

Please note that this handout contains a general description of the study and the reasoning behind it. You must NOT simply copy text from this handout into your Lab Report – to do so will be considered plagiarism and will be treated accordingly. 

BACKGROUND

Infidelity is the act of being unfaithful to one’s spouse or sexual partner, and it can involve sexual activity, emotional intimacy, or both. While sexual activity and emotional intimacy frequently co-occur in cases of infidelity, sexual activity with another may occur in the absence of emotional intimacy, and emotional intimacy with another may develop in the absence of sexual activity. These aspects of infidelity are referred to as sexual and emotional infidelity respectively. 

Emotional infidelity, like sexual infidelity, can be extremely upsetting and damaging to a relationship. However, the two types of infidelity may not be equally upsetting to men and women. It has been reported that women are more distressed by emotional infidelity than men, while men are more distressed by sexual infidelity than women. 

The theoretical explanation for this sex difference, originally proposed by Buss and colleagues, is based on evolutionary adaptation. According to this theory, males and females faced different adaptive challenges, which led to the development of different jealousy systems. The challenge for females was to ensure their partner remained invested in their offspring, to help maximise their chances of survival. Therefore, females developed a jealousy system that is most sensitive to their partner forming an emotional attachment to another person. For males, the challenge was to ensure they were indeed the biological father of any child they invested in. Evolutionarily, it would be pointless to invest their energies in raising a child that was not genetically related. Therefore, males have developed a jealousy system that is most sensitive to sexual infidelity. According to this theory, sex differences in responses to emotional and sexual infidelity are due to males and females having different biologically evolved jealousy systems. In other words, males and females are ‘hardwired’ to respond differently to each type of infidelity. 

While many studies have found a sex difference in which type of infidelity is most upsetting, there is also considerable variability within sexes. That is, some males report emotional infidelity as most distressing and some females report sexual infidelity as most distressing. Researchers have examined a number of factors that may explain this within-sex variability (and perhaps even the between-sex difference), including relationship status, previous experience of infidelity, sexual orientation, sex roles, and attachment style. It is the last of these, attachment style, that we will focus on in this study.

Levy and Kelly (2010) and Burchell and Ward (2011) examined whether attachment style moderated sex differences in jealousy and found that it did. That is, they found that the reported sex difference, with males choosing sexual infidelity as most distressing more frequently than females, was found among participants with some attachment styles but not others. Others, though, have failed to find an effect of attachment style (Brase et al., 2014).

THE CURRENT STUDY

Aim:

The aim of this study is to investigate whether men and women differ in their responses to sexual and emotional infidelity and, if so, whether any sex differences are moderated by attachment style. 

Design and IVs:

Infidelity 

In the survey you were presented with two hypothetical scenarios describing an act of infidelity. One of these involved sexual infidelity but no emotional infidelity. The other involved emotional infidelity but no sexual infidelity. After reading each scenario you were asked to imagine how you would feel if this situation happened to you and to indicate how you would feel and what you would think on various response scales.

Attachment style

We also measured attachment style using the general form of the ECR scale (Brennan, Clark & Shaver, 1998). Based on their responses, participants were categorised into Bartholomew and Horrowitz’s (1991) four categories of attachment style (Secure, Preoccupied, Dismissive, Fearful), by dichotomising the anxiety and avoidance dimensions by median split. Participants were categorised into one of the four attachment styles based on whether they were high or low on anxiety and avoidance, as follows:

  • Secure = low anxiety and avoidance
  • Preoccupied = High anxiety, low avoidance
  • Dismissive = Low anxiety, high avoidance
  • Fearful = high anxiety and avoidance

Participant sex

The sex of participants was measured with a single self-report question asking “What is your sex?”, with response options of “male”, “female”, and “other”. An “other” option was included to accommodate any intersex participants. We are using ‘sex’ as an IV in this study, rather than ‘gender’, because we are testing an evolutionary theory that predicts a difference based on biological sex. It is an interesting question whether the reported differences between men and women in response to infidelity are best understood as related to ‘sex’ or ‘gender’. However, in line with the evolutionary theory we will use ‘sex’ as the IV in our study.

Design

The study was conducted as a 2 (participant sex: male vs. female,) by 4 (attachment style: secure, preoccupied, dismissive, fearful) experimental design. It is a 2 x 4 design because there are two independent variables, one with two levels and one with four levels. Furthermore, it is a between groups design because each cell of the design contains a different set of participants (i.e. each participant is either male or female, and in only one of the attachment style categories).

Dependent variable:

The dependent variable was how upsetting each type of infidelity was imagined to be. This was measured with a binary choice measure in which you were asked to choose which of the two scenarios you would find most upsetting. 

Henceforth, the key variables in this study will be labelled as follows:

Participant_Sex: This variable codes the sex of the participant. 0 = male, 1 = female.

Attachment_category: This variable codes participants’ attachment style. 0 = secure, 1 = dismissive, 2 = preoccupied, 3 = fearful.

Binary: This variable codes whether a participant chose sexual or emotional infidelity as most upsetting; 1 = sexual, 2 = emotional

KEY QUESTIONS OF THIS RESEARCH REPORT

In this research report, you will be asking the following questions:

  1. Do men and women differ in terms of which type of infidelity they find most upsetting?

Previous research has found men are more likely to choose sexual infidelity as most upsetting, whereas women are more likely to choose emotional infidelity as most upsetting. Do you find this pattern in your data?

  1. Do men and women differ in the frequency of attachment styles?

This question refers to whether certain types of attachment style are more common amongst men or women. Previous research suggests men are more likely than women to have a dismissive style, while women are more likely than men to have a preoccupied style. Is this pattern replicated in your data?

  1. Do the attachment style categories differ in terms of which type of infidelity they find most upsetting?

Are people in each attachment style category equally likely to find sexual or emotional infidelity most upsetting, or do the attachment style groups differ in this regard?

  1. Looking at each attachment style separately, do men and women differ in terms of which type of infidelity they find most upsetting?

This question addresses whether the reported sex difference in which type of infidelity is most upsetting is found across all attachment styles, or whether it is more pronounced among some attachment styles than others.

The first thing you will need to do is construct hypotheses that reflect these questions. They are what you think the answers to the above questions will be as shown by the data. You should review the relevant literature, and from that literature, derive logical predictions about what we will find in this study in relation to the four Research Questions outlined above. Remember, when stating your hypotheses, you need to specify the direction of any main effects or interaction effects. 

ANALYSES TO TEST YOUR HYPOTHESES

By the end of Week 4 of semester, you will be given a data set that you will analyse to test your hypotheses. At that time, you will also be given a Data Analysis Handout, to guide you in conducting your analyses. Statistics Help tutorials will be held in Week 6 of semester, to answer questions you might have once you have conducted your analyses. 

You will need to conduct statistical analyses to:

  • Describe the standard demographic characteristics of your sample (sex, age, relationship status, sexual orientation, and any other relevant characteristics that were measured)
  • Test your hypotheses. All four hypotheses can be testing using chi-square tests and frequency analyses.

Detailed notes on how to conduct and interpret this analysis will be provided in the Data Analysis Handout, which will be released to you at the same time as the data that you will analyse. 

For more information about the measures in this study, you should refer to the document called “Measures used in the study”, which is provided for you on Blackboard. This document contains information about the items in the questionnaire, as well as information about how scores were calculated for each of the variables in the analyses that you will conduct.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR WRITING UP THE RESEARCH REPORT

The report is worth 40% of your final grade in the unit, and will be marked out of 100. The breakdown of marks (out of 100) is given below.

Introduction (24 marks): A useful format for the Introduction is to structure it in terms of the following (major) sections: (1) Describe context of the research in terms of the nature of jealousy, sexual and emotional infidelity, and gender differences in responses to infidelity. These concepts should be clearly defined when first introduced; (2) Discuss the finding that men and women differ in their responses to emotional and sexual infidelity. (3) Discuss the different theoretical accounts of the sex difference. (4) Describe research examining the role of attachment style in responses to sexual and emotional infidelity. (5) State the aim(s), research questions, and hypotheses of the study. Most of the intellectual energy that goes into this report should be directed towards the theoretical and empirical rationale provided for the hypotheses. Formulate hypotheses that reflect the study aims. Justify hypotheses by tying them to related research so they flow smoothly and directly from the literature. 

Method (12 marks): Include subheadings for Design, Participants, Measures, and Procedure. The Design section should describe the 2 x 4 experimental design. The dependent variable should also be specified. The Participants section should describe the nature of the individuals who participated in the research. The Measures section should describe the main concepts that were measured or manipulated and the questions or scenarios used to do so. The Procedure should describe how the survey was administered and should include a description of any instructions given, randomisation and counterbalancing of conditions, etc.

Results (16 marks): This report is not a test of your statistical knowledge and you will be given data analysis guidelines to assist you later in the semester. The statistics should be used as a tool to demonstrate whether or not the expected theoretical relationships are supported. You will be expected to present the results with the help of tables or figures, as appropriate. The data file will be available on Blackboard in Week 4, and Statistics Help tutorials will be held in Week 6. While you wait for the data, it is recommended that you read all the essential references, and start to have a clear idea of what arguments you are going to make.

Discussion (24 marks): Discuss the findings in relation to the aims and hypotheses and literature cited in your Introduction.  Were your hypotheses supported?  If so, what evidence is there that the results are reflecting “true” relationships versus methodological factors? If they were not supported, discuss possible reasons for this. Discuss limitations of the study (these should be tied directly to the results) and provide suggestions for future research. Provide conclusions relating to gender differences in response to infidelity, and the theoretical explanations of these differences.

Your report should also include a Title Page, Abstract, and References. The Abstract (6 marks) should be no more than 150 words in length. Marks will also be awarded for overall integration (8 marks) and references and presentation (10 marks). The references you have been given should be sufficient to begin your literature review. However, you should explore the relevant literature further and include additional references in your report. 

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

The Research Report should be a maximum 3000 words, with +/- 10% flexibility on the word count. This word limit does NOT include Title page, Tables, Figures, or References, but it does include the Abstract. As an approximate guide, use the following: Abstract (150 words), Introduction (approx. 1000 words), Method and Results (approx. 850 words combined), Discussion (approx. 1000 words).

Your assignment should be typed and double-spaced using a standard 12 point font.  Use APA formatting throughout, including for Tables and Figures. You may place your tables and figures within the Results section (i.e., no need to use the manuscript submission convention of placing tables at the end of the article). Do not attach the materials, questionnaire or SPSS printouts of your results to your Research Report.  As your formatting guide, refer to the APA Publication Manual.  

Your assignment must be submitted as a single document, via Blackboard, no later than 11:55pm on Friday, October 27, 2017. A cover sheet must be completed by you and included as the first page of the submitted assignment. Standard assessment cover sheets can be found here: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/student-administration/docs/student/Cover_sheet_for_submission_of_work_for_assessment.pdf   

Your assignment will be submitted in Turnitin (through BlackBoard). Well in advance of your submission, you should familiarise yourself with the documentation in the folder called “Turnitin Information”, which you will find under the “Assessments” tab on BlackBoard. 

You must check that your assignment submission has correctly uploaded, in an acceptable file format, well in advance of the deadline. Allow plenty of time to correct any technical difficulties, as they will not be considered the basis for any extension. 

As per the unit outline, a penalty of 10% per day (including weekends) applies for late submissions, and submissions more than 5 days late will receive zero marks.

Extensions may be granted in exceptional circumstances. Requests for extensions of 7 days or less must be submitted to your tutor in writing, before the assignment due date. Requests for extensions of 8 days or more must be submitted to the university’s online special consideration (SPC) tool, no later than three working days after the due date. Immediately upon submitting an extension request to the SPC online tool, students should also email their tutor to notify their tutor that they are requesting an extension via the SPC online tool, as well as the length of the extension they are requesting. All extension requests must be accompanied by appropriate documentation (i.e. a medical certificate for illness, a counsellor’s/psychologist’s letter for psychological issues or personal circumstances). The documentation should indicate the length of time for which the student was impacted by the illness/circumstance. Remember that pressure of other work (whether university work or paid work) does not count as a basis for an extension. Extension requests on the grounds of stress or anxiety will only be considered if it can be demonstrated that the issue is chronic and of a medical nature. Students should not assume that they will be granted an extension until they are notified of its approval. 

Reading list

Essential Reading:

Buss, D. M., Larsen, R. J., Westen, D., & Semmelroth, J. (1992). Sex differences in jealousy: Evolution, physiology, and psychology. Psychological Science, 3(4), 251-255. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.1992.tb00038.x

Burchell, J. L. & Ward, J. (2011). Sex drive, attachment style, relationship status and previous infidelity as predictors of sex differences in romantic jealousy. Personality and Individual Differences, 51, 657-661.

Levy, K. N. & Kelly, K. M. (2010). Sex differences in jealousy: A contribution from attachment theory. Psychological Science, 21(2), 168-173.

Levy, K. N., Kelly, K. M. & Jack, E. L. (2006). Sex differences in jealousy: A matter of evolution or attachment history? In M. Mikulincer & G. S. Goodman (Eds.), Dynamics of Romantic Love: Attachment, Caregiving, and Sex, pp. 128-145. London: Guildford Press.

Further Reading:

Aylor, B., & Dainton, M. (2001). Antecedents in Romantic Jealousy Experience, Expression, and Goals. Western Journal of Communication, 65(4), 370-391. doi: 10.1080/10570310109374717

Bendixen, M., Kennair, L. E. O., & Buss, D. M. (2015). Jealousy: Evidence of strong sex differences using both forced choice and continuous measure paradigms. Personality and Individual Differences, 86, 212-216. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2015.05.035

Bhowon, U., Ah-Kion, J., & Tseung-Wong, C. N. G. (2004). Jealousy in sexual and emotional infidelity: A study of sex differences. Gender & Behaviour, 2, 225-239. doi: 10.4314/gab.v2i1.23323

Bohner, G., & Wänke, M. (2004). Psychological Gender Mediates Sex Differences in Jealousy. Journal of Cultural and Evolutionary Psychology, 2(3-4), 213-229. doi: 10.1556/JCEP.2.2004.3-4.3

Brase, G. L., Adair, L., & Monk, K. (2014). Explaining sex differences in reactions to relationship infidelities: Comparisons of the roles of sex, gender, beliefs, attachment, and sociosexual orientation. Evolutionary Psychology, 12(1), 73-96. doi: 10.1177/147470491401200106

Buss, D. M., & Haselton, M. (2005). The evolution of jealousy: Comment. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9(11), 506-507. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2005.09.006

Buss, D. M., Larsen, R. J., & Westen, D. (1996). Sex differences in jealousy: Not gone, not forgotten, and not easily explained by alternative hypotheses. Psychological Science, 7(6), 373-375. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.1996.tb00392.x

Buss, D. M., Shackelford, T. K., Kirkpatrick, L. A., Choe, J. C., Lim, H. K., Hasegawa, M., . . . Bennett, K. (1999). Jealousy and the nature of beliefs about infidelity: Tests of competing hypotheses about sex differences in the United States, Korea, and Japan. Personal Relationships, 6(1), 125-150. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.1999.tb00215.x

Buunk, A. P., & Dijkstra, P. (2015). Rival characteristics that provoke jealousy: A study in Iraqi Kurdistan. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 9(2), 116-127. doi: 10.1037/ebs0000030

Buunk, B. P. (1997). Personality, birth order and attachment styles as related to various types of jealousy. Personality and Individual Differences, 23(6), 997-1006. doi: 10.1016/S0191-8869(97)00136-0

Buunk, B. P., Angleitner, A., Oubaid, V., & Buss, D. M. (1996). Sex differences in jealousy in evolutionary and cultural perspective: Tests from the Netherlands, Germany, and the United States. Psychological Science, 7(6), 359-363. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.1996.tb00389.x

Buunk, B. P., & Dijkstra, P. (2004). Gender differences in rival characteristics that evoke jealousy in response to emotional versus sexual infidelity. Personal Relationships, 11(4), 395-408. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2004.00089.x

Cramer, R. E., Abraham, W. T., Johnson, L. M., & Manning-Ryan, B. (2001). Gender differences in subjective distress to emotional and sexual infidelity: Evolutionary or logical inference explanation? Current Psychology: A Journal for Diverse Perspectives on Diverse Psychological Issues, 20(4), 327-336. doi: 10.1007/s12144-001-1015-2

DeSteno, D., Bartlett, M. Y., Braverman, J., & Salovey, P. (2002). Sex differences in jealousy: Evolutionary mechanism or artifact of measurement? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(5), 1103-1116. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.83.5.1103

DeSteno, D., Piercarlo, V., & Bartlett, M. Y. (2006). Jealousy and the threatened self: Getting to the heart of the green-eyed monster. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91 (4), 626-641.

DeSteno, D. & Salovey, P. (1996). Evolutionary origins of sex differences in jealousy? Questioning the “fitness” of the model. Psychological Science, 7 (6), 367-372.

Fussell, N. J., & Stollery, B. T. (2012). Between-sex differences in romantic jealousy: Substance or spin? A qualitative analysis. Evolutionary Psychology, 10(1), 136-172. doi: 10.1177/147470491201000114

Hansen, G. L. (1985). Perceived threats and marital jealousy. Social Psychology Quarterly, 48(3), 262-268. doi: 10.2307/3033686

Hupka, R. B., & Bank, A. L. (1996). Sex differences in jealousy: Evolution or social construction? Cross-Cultural Research: The Journal of Comparative Social Science, 30(1), 24-59. doi: 10.1177/106939719603000102

Lans, O., Mosek, A., & Yagil, Y. (2014). Romantic jealousy from the perspectives of Bowen’s concept of differentiation and gender differences. The Family Journal, 22(3), 321-331. doi: 10.1177/1066480714530835

Pines, A. M., & Friedman, A. (1998). Gender differences in romantic jealousy. The Journal of Social Psychology, 138(1), 54-71. doi: 10.1080/00224549809600353

Scherer, C. R., Akers, E. G., & Kolbe, K. L. (2013). Bisexuals and the sex differences in jealousy hypothesis. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 30(8), 1064-1071. doi: 10.1177/0265407513481446

Shackelford, T. K., Voracek, M., Schmitt, D. P., Buss, D. M., Weekes-Shackelford, V. A., & Michalski, R. L. (2004). Romantic jealousy in early adulthood and in later life. Human Nature, 15(3), 283-300. doi: 10.1007/s12110-004-1010-z

Tagler, M. J., & Gentry, R. H. (2011). Gender, jealousy, and attachment: A (more) thorough examination across measures and samples. Journal of Research in Personality, 45(6), 697-701. doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2011.08.006

Varga, C. M., Gee, C. B., & Munro, G. (2011). The effects of sample characteristics and experience with infidelity on romantic jealousy. Sex Roles, 65(11-12), 854-866. doi: 10.1007/s11199-011-0048-8

Ward, J., & Voracek, M. (2004). Evolutionary and social cognitive explanations of sex differences in romantic jealousy. Australian Journal of Psychology, 56(3), 165-171. doi: 10.1080/00049530412331283381

Wiederman, M. W., & Allgeier, E. R. (1993). Gender differences in sexual jealousy: Adaptionist or social learning explanation? Ethology & Sociobiology, 14(2), 115-140. doi: 10.1016/0162-3095(93)90011-6

Wiederman, M. W., & LaMar, L. (1998). “Not with him you don’t!”: Gender and emotional reactions to sexual infidelity during courtship. Journal of Sex Research, 35(3), 288-297. doi: 10.1080/00224499809551945

Zandbergen, D. L., & Brown, S. G. (2015). Culture and gender differences in romantic jealousy. Personality and Individual Differences, 72, 122-127. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.08.035

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