Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Murray Millar

Second Committee Member

David Copeland

Third Committee Member

Rachael Robnett

Fourth Committee Member

Peter Gray

Number of Pages



This thesis examined the effects of sex and type of partner infidelity, including both physical (i.e., sexually involved with another person) and emotional (i.e., emotionally involved with another person) infidelity, on mate abandonment behaviors. Previous research has demonstrated sex differences in emotional responses to infidelity, where men react more negatively to physical infidelity and women react more negatively to emotional infidelity. While various studies have investigated perceived behavioral reactions using imagined scenarios, this study expands current research by utilizing actual retrospective reports. It was hypothesized that males would engage in significantly more mate abandonment behaviors after experiencing a physical infidelity, while females would engage in significantly more mate abandonment behaviors after experiencing an emotional infidelity. Two hundred and eight participants (133 female, 75 male) completed a variety of questionnaires to assess actual behavioral reactions to partner infidelity, along with various personality measures (self and partner mate value, dispositional jealousy, positive and negative affect). The hypothesis was only partially supported. Although men were more likely to abandon their mate after experiencing a physical infidelity, women showed no significant differences in mate abandonment behaviors after experiencing a physical or emotional infidelity.


Infidelity; Mate abandoment; Mate retention; Mating behavior; Sexual selection


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Evolution | Experimental Analysis of Behavior

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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