Award Date

5-1-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Anthropology

First Committee Member

Peter Gray

Second Committee Member

Alyssa Crittenden

Third Committee Member

William Jankowiak

Fourth Committee Member

Marta Meana

Number of Pages

97

Abstract

This research focuses on women's emotional and behavioral responses to men's sexual infidelity in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Sexual infidelity can be defined as extradyadic sex within a monogamous relationship that threatens the stability of the relationship (Mark et al., 2011). Since the ultimate reproductive constraint for women is access to resources, this study explores how a woman's education level (as an indicator of her socioeconomic status) affects her response to her partner's sexual infidelity. The Caribbean region is largely absent from the literature on sexual infidelity, with the exception of one study in Trinidad (Flinn, 1988) that focuses on mate guarding behavior. Existing research on sexual infidelity is limited by sample sociodemographics in the following ways: age (most studies are of people in their 20s), nationality (primarily American samples, with less cross-cultural research), university undergraduates (limits socioeconomic variety), sex (most focus on male behavior, perception, and attitudes), and the context of marriage (omits a variety of relationship types). Additionally, most studies focus on motivations of and correlates of engaging in sexual infidelity, rather than addressing female responses to sexual infidelity. Thus, the goal of this research was to expand the cross-cultural scope of research on sexual infidelity while addressing the previously mentioned gaps in research.

A mixed-methods research design was employed to gather quantitative and qualitative data regarding women's views of sexual infidelity. A short questionnaire was used to gather sociodemographic information about the participants and their partners. It also probed for how women of different education levels would be expected to respond to being cheated on. For example, it asked, "Think of one of your well-educated female friends. How would she respond if her partner had sex with another woman?" A longer questionnaire was designed to gather culturally contextual information to supplement data from the short questionnaires. A total of 101 women from downtown Montego Bay, Jamaica and Montego Bay Community College completed the short questionnaire and 4 of those 101 completed the follow up questionnaire. Results from a chi-square (χ2) test of independence show that a woman's education level was not associated with her projected response (df=5, χ2=6.554, p=0.265) nor was it associated with her actual response (df=6, χ2=7.608, p=0.268). There were, however, overall patterns in women's responses. For example, for the projected responses of participants' friends: higher educated women tend to respond by ending the relationship more than any other behavioral response (35.5%) and lesser-educated women respond with violence (22.6%) more than they respond with discussing the situation (5.6%). The results of this study are discussed in regard to its limitations, broader evolutionary and cultural contexts/expectations, an African American comparison, the role of religion, and ideas for future research.

Keywords

Adultery; Educational attainment; Jamaica; Jealousy; Sexual infidelity; Sexual jealousy; Women

Disciplines

Family, Life Course, and Society | Social and Cultural Anthropology

Language

English


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