Skip to content

The General Social Survey is a great resource

See, for example, this report by Deborah Carr on changing attitudes about marital infidelity:

Two great things about the General Social Survey are: (1) the data are freely available online, and (2) the same questions have been asked since 1972 so you get a nice long series.


  1. Joerg says:

    Regarding the posted graph, I find the category “sometimes wrong” highly amusing. What do people think who click on that one? Maybe: “Well, in general it’s wrong but hey, I had a bad day at work and was drunk.” Or: “Generally it’s wrong, but that lady was just too good of an opportunity to let it pass.” Many more come to mind.

    • Peter Flom says:

      If they separated and planning to get divorced? If the spouses both agree that it’s OK?

    • Matt says:

      I’d fall into the “sometimes wrong” group. If a married couple consents to extramarital relations, it’s not wrong. The question wasn’t “is infidelity wrong” but “A married person having sexual relations with someone other than their [sic] spouse is…”.

  2. Jeremy Fox says:

    Joking aside, more serious reasons for clicking “sometimes wrong” might include “it’s not wrong if my spouse has already cheated on me”, “it’s not wrong if my spouse is abusive”, and “it’s not wrong if my spouse has given me permission”. Not saying I agree with any of those, just saying they’re plausible.

  3. pianoguy says:

    I’d like to see this graph alongside a graphs showing actual instance of infidelity – are we getting more Puritanical or just more hypocritical?

  4. David Durant says:

    As is often the case “having sexual relations with someone other than their spouse” is automatically assumed to be cheating. The alternative is that the couple in question might be in an open and honest non-monogamous relationship.

  5. pajamapaati says:

    A married person might have sexual relations with someone other than their spouse with the spouse’s consent if they are in an open relationship e.g. ‘polyamory’. Come on folks, get with the programme: the idea that it’s ‘cheating’ is just soooo last-century :-)