This research project examines the interrelations between gender, monogamy, and infidelity among college students in the United States. The prevalence of infidelity is readily apparent in American culture with news crews rushing to cover the latest scandals, movies depicting steamy affairs, and journals boasting tips for how to keep a husband or wife satisfied in a relationship. While sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists frequently explore the topic of infidelity as an aspect of human mating behavior, the discipline of anthropology has failed to systematically examine infidelity. Thus, this research project is designed to offer an alternative to the biologically deterministic approach of evolutionary psychology by exploring this topic through the theoretical perspectives of social constructionism and cultural hegemony. Fifteen college students were each asked to complete a quantitative word association activity followed by an in-depth interview. Ultimately, the statistical trends of the free-sort activity suggest that my respondents hold highly gendered views about the roles of men and women in society, but these gender distinctions all but disappeared in the interview component. This paper concludes with a brief discussion of the quantitative and qualitative methodological techniques employed resulted in different patterns of data, and suggests that there may be a paradigm shift in how gender and heteronormativity are perceived among college students. Future qualitative studies focusing upon gender and infidelity would be extremely beneficial to fully understand the effects culture has upon this highly stigmatized human behavior.


Navarro-Farr, Olivia


Sociology and Anthropology


Gender and Sexuality | Social and Cultural Anthropology


gender, monogamy, infidelity, anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2013 Alexandra Beard