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McNair Scholars Program

Pamela Bivens


Education: Bachelor of Science in psychology (December 1996)

McNair Project: Relationship between Personality Type and Infidelity: Psychological Research on the Internet (1996)

Mentor: William Griffitt, Ph.D.

Many studies have been conducted on how personality affects personal preferences or behaviors. Previous research has indicated that extraverts demonstrate a greater tendency toward promiscuity, a high rate of change in sexual partners and a high rate of sexual encounters. While studies regarding attitudes about sexual infidelity in dating and marital relationships have found that infidelity is more acceptable to men than women, infidelity in committed dating relationships is significantly more acceptable than marital infidelity. The current research project was interested in whether a certain personality type or category was predictive of a person's tendency to be unfaithful. Specifically, this study is interested in determining if one, or more, personality type(s) was related to infidelity. Infidelity was defined as participation in behaviors determined unfaithful while involved in a monogamous relationship (i.e., a relationship based on the assumption of exclusive involvement). In today's society, infidelity can have detrimental effects ranging from mild/severe psychological implications to death. The people participating in unfaithful behaviors put not only themselves at risk, but also the people with whom they are involved.

Four hundred and eighty-two subjects accessed a personal web page containing the experiment. There were 345 males and 137 females, or roughly seventy-one percent of the participants were males. Ninety percent of subjects involved in this experiment had some level of college experience. Each subject took two surveys: The Keirsey Temperament Sorter, to ascertain their personality categories, and a second survey to determine whether they were unfaithful in their relationships. The Keirsey Temperament Sorter consisted of 70 questions designed to determine an individual's personality type. Completed surveys resulted in individual personality categories and fidelity rating of either faithful or unfaithful for each participant.

It was predicted that one, or more, personality type categories would be indicative of either faithful or unfaithful tendencies. Extraversion was the personality type category predicted to indicate a tendency toward infidelity. The personality type was obtained by calculating the number of responses in each category. For example, a total of ten questions were presented for the extraverted or introverted category. Each question contained one extraversion response and one introversion response. A subject obtaining an extraverted personality type would have to choose at least 6 of 10 extraversion responses. The fidelity score was obtained by determining if the subject had been unfaithful according to the answers chosen on the list of behaviors, as well as the responses chosen for the time factors. The list of behaviors (someone asked you for a date and you accepted, you asked someone out on a date, sexual intercourse, kissing, petting (breast or genital fondling), and oral sex) were rated on a scale of 1 to 5. One being rated as faithful and five as unfaithful. Statistical analysis was calculated using the Pearson Correlational Matrix and Multiple Regression in which the combined and independent predictive value of all four personality scores were evaluated.

The extraversion was the only category of personality to result in significant findings. A Pearson Correlation Matrix resulted in a correlation of .21 between the extraversion category and infidelity. Multiple regression resulted in a correlation (multiple R) of .23. A significant difference was found for the extraversion personality type category (F(4,481) = 6.46, p<.0001). Although under the accepted level of acceptance, the perceiving category showed a slight contribution (p<.07).