Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Deborah P. Welsh

Committee Members

Robert G. Wahler, Kristina Coop Gordon


Infidelity within adolescent dating relationships is a commonplace behavior that has received very little empirical attention. The present study examines multiple facets of this behavior in a sample of 209 middle and late adolescent couples. An ecological model is used to explore factors related to the individual, relationship, and context in both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. While multiple variables on all of these levels were significant in cross-sectional analysis, a few stood out as being important predictors of infidelity over time. In particular, participants who had a higher opinion of their own physical attractiveness were more likely to cheat at Time 2. In addition, participants’ reports of more externalizing and depressive symptoms at Time 1 predicted their partner’s infidelity over time. Longitudinal outcomes of infidelity included lower relationship satisfaction over time for those who had cheated on their partner at Time 1. Curiously, those whose partners had cheated on them at Time 1 experienced an increase in self-worth over time. Discussion explores infidelity within the developmental context and across multiple ecological levels.

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