From Academia: The Psychological Factors Behind Ashley Madison Outrage

2018 research published in The Journal of Social Psychology has examined the factors that influence whether or not someone is outraged by infidelity on Ashley Madison.

The study is entitled ‘Scandalous: Christian identification, sex guilt, and the mediated demonization of the participants in the AshleyMadison scandal’.

The authors looked at the personality traits and religiosity of participants, considering which variables predict “demonization” behaviours.

It found that high levels of “sex guilt” – agreement with statements such as “When I have sexual dreams I try to forget them” – correlated with high levels of demonization.

The sex guilt variable explained the correlation between religiosity and outrage.

Political conservatism was associated with demonization of the owners and users of Ashley Madison, and the same individuals were fairly sympathetic towards the hackers.

“The way we think and feel about sex is influenced by a lot of different things, such as our religious identification and how much guilt we experience when engaging in or thinking about sex,” said co-author Jana M. Hackathorn of Murray State University.

“We tend to want questions about human behavior to have one cause and one effect, but that just isn’t the case.”

Hackathorn notes that infidelity is demonized by society as a whole, so an interesting follow-up question would be whether high sex guilt predicts outrage with more widely accepted behaviours.

Read more here.

Scott Harvey

Scott is the Editor of Global Dating Insights. Raised in Dorset, he holds a BA from The University of Nottingham and an MSc from Lund University School of Economics and Management. Previously he has written about politics, economics and technology for various online publications.

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