Drawing the Line: The Development of a Comprehensive Assessment of Infidelity Judgments

Ashley E. Thompson, Lucia F. O’Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Infidelity is a leading cause of relationship discord and dissolution, and couples generally report expectations to maintain monogamy. However, a majority of men and women report engaging in some form of infidelity at least once in their lives. Research assessing judgments of the behaviors that constitute infidelity is lacking. The three studies reported here advanced the literature by developing and validating the Definitions of Infidelity Questionnaire (DIQ), a comprehensive measure examining infidelity judgments. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses indicated four factors to the scale: sexual/explicit behaviors, technology/online behaviors, emotional/affectionate behaviors, and solitary behaviors. Investigation of the psychometric properties demonstrated the DIQ to be reliable and valid. Participants agreed that sexual/explicit behaviors comprised infidelity to the largest extent, whereas other types of behaviors (technology/online behaviors, emotional/affectionate behaviors, and solitary behaviors) were judged as comprising infidelity to a lesser extent. Men reported more permissive judgments than did women. This study provides insights regarding operationalizing infidelity and identifying areas of ambiguity and consensus. Implications of the findings for educators and practitioners working with individuals in intimate relationships are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)910-926
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Sex Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 12 2016

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Copyright © The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.


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