Date of Thesis



The social phenomenon known as infidelity has inspired numerous researchers to study the ways in which it can affect one's psyche, life, and future. The two most frequent ways infidelity has been studied are in regards to the male and female genders and how those genders perceive acts of sexual and emotional infidelity. The current study provides another way to look at the perceptions of these two types of infidelity: in the context of the parent-child relationship. The present study utilized forced-decision scenarios where participants were asked to choose which type of infidelity would be most upsetting for them on behalf of their mother and their father. Additionally, a version of the Adult Attachment Interview Adult Interview was used to establish participant's attachment categorizations--secure or insecure--so as to provide information on the existing parent-child relationships that informed the choices made in the forced-scenario tasks. The first hypothesis predicted that participants would find a mother's sexual infidelity and a father's emotional infidelity as most upsetting. Chi-square analysis of infidelity scenarios revealed partial support for this hypothesis as participants found sexual infidelity on behalf of both mother and father most upsetting. The second hypothesis predicted that those in securely attached relationships with both parents would have the overall opinion that infidelity would be upsetting regardless of the parent who committed it, thus showing no preference for one parent over the other; insecurely attached participants would be likelier to show preference towards one parent over another. No significant findings emerged for this second hypothesis. Suggestions for further research and applications are explored within the study.


infidelity, parents, attachment theory

Access Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

T. Joel Wade