An experimental investigation of accounts and attributions following sexual infidelity

Paul A. Mongeau, Jerold L. Hale, Marmy Alles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


This study experimentally investigated accounts and attributions following sexual infidelity. Hypotheses predicted that differences in the infidelity (i.e., intent and revenge) would influence attributions about, and accounts generated to explain, the infidelity. Specific predictions also linked account production to attribution patterns. Students read a scenario that described a sexual infidelity performed by either a male or female, either intentionally or unintentionally, and being either revenge-driven or not driven by revenge. Results indicate that revenge had a strong impact on attributions and accounts, whereas intent only inversely influenced the production of guilt. Relationships between accounts and attributions were consistent with predictions; however, the account category of silence reflected strong levels of responsibility, blame, and guilt yet was interpreted as quite aggravating. Consistent with traditional and modern sexual double standards, findings indicated sex differences in both accounts and attributions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-344
Number of pages19
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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