Previous research shows that powerful people are more likely than those lacking power to engage in infidelity. One possible explanation holds (a) that power psychologically releases people from the inhibiting effects of social norms and thus increases their appetite for counternormative forms of sexuality. Two alternative explanations are (b) that power increases appetite for any form of sexuality, normative or counternormative, and (c) that power makes men (but not women) seem more attractive to others and thus increases their access to potential mating opportunities. The current research tested these explanations using correlational data from 610 Dutch men and women. Supporting the first explanation, power's relationship with infidelity was statistically mediated by increased attraction to the secrecy associated with infidelity. Inconsistent with the second explanation, power was linked with infidelity but not with casual sex among singles (a more normative form of sexuality). Inconsistent with the third explanation, the link between power and infidelity was observed just as strongly in women as in men. Findings suggest that power may be associated with infidelity because power draws people to the counternormative aspects of infidelity. Implications for theories of power, sexuality, and gender are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Gender Studies
- Sociology and Political Science
- History and Philosophy of Science