Chart of the day

Interesting look at public opinion on extra-marital affairs from Yglesias (originally via Monkey Cage)

Of note is the decreasing tolerance for extra-marital sex.  Also of note, the more educated you are, the more tolerant you are of extra marital affairs.  As a highly-educated person, I don’t think I’d end up in the “always wrong,” category.  I’m reluctant to embrace the always standard for most forms of behavior.  If there was an “almost always wrong,” I’d go with that, but if the next option were “sometimes wrong,” I’d probably go with the “always” as I’m probably closer to that.  Short version of social science commentary: not only are the question wordings very important, so are are the wordings of the available response categories.

As for the socio-moral (can I say that?) commentary… Perhaps I shouldn’t say this since I know my wife reads my blog, but I think people place to much focus on sexual fidelity in a marriage.  In truth, there’s all sorts of ways that you can be unfaithful to your spouse that are not sexual liaisons with another person, but that is what our society is all hung up on.  Mind you, I have no intentions of violating this myself, but it has always struck me as crazy that many people see a single extramarital mistake as reason to end an otherwise okay marriage.  Now, of course, in many cases, an extra-marital encounter is a symptom of a troubled marriage and the straw that breaks the camel’s back, but, as a society, I think we place too much emphasis on that particular aspect.  I would argue that it is just as damaging (if not more so) to a marriage to show a pervasive lack of trust, respect, confidence, etc., towards a spouse.  Yet, there’s this idea that if somebody sexually cheats the marriage must be de fact over whereas if that same spouse works to undermine his/her partner’s confidence in a business venture or as a parent, that’s just something to be worked on.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

2 Responses to Chart of the day

  1. Jeff says:

    Well put, totally agree that there are other, arguably worse, ways to ruin a marriage. Here’s hoping we both manage to steer clear of them all!

  2. Lee says:

    “If there was an “almost always wrong,” I’d go with that, but if the next option were “sometimes wrong,” I’d probably go with the “always” as I’m probably closer to that.”

    There is indeed an “almost always wrong” option included in the survey. The four available options are “always wrong,” “almost always wrong,” “sometimes wrong” and “not wrong at all.” I would go with “sometimes wrong.”

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