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Infidelity in America: Decades of Cheating and Passing Judgment on Cheaters

Posted: 10/07/10 07:24 AM ET

Just how often do married people cheat on their spouse? For decades, social scientists have been asking a representative national sample of Americans to 'fess up to their own infidelity and to pass judgments on others who cheat. The results were published in a recent issue of the journal Contexts.

From 1973 through 2008, participants responded to the question, "A married person having sexual relations with someone other than their spouse is...," by choosing one of these answers:

  • always wrong
  • almost always wrong
  • sometimes wrong
  • not wrong at all

From 1991 through 2008, those participants who had ever been married were also asked to indicate whether they had ever cheated on their spouse. Of course, they may well be lying, but short of installing cameras everywhere, asking people is the best we can do.

See how accurately you can guess the results of the research by answering these 5 True or False questions.

1. Over time, Americans have become less judgmental about cheating. Specifically, from 1973 through 2008, the percent who say that "a married person having sexual relations with someone other than their spouse is always wrong" has steadily decreased.

2. The number of ever-married men who admit to having cheated on their spouse is nearly 50%.

3. Among those who have ever been married, more men than women admit to having cheated on their spouse.

4. Men and women are becoming more similar in their rates of cheating (or at least in their admitted rates of cheating).

5. Fewer than half of all cheaters believe that marital fidelity is always wrong.


Click here to find the answers.