Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)
Type of Paper/Work
Nathaniel William Nelson
Emily Jordan Jensen
Infidelity is a prominent relationship concern within the United States, causing a myriad of detrimental consequences. Individuals betrayed by infidelity often report distressing cognitive, emotional, and behavioral symptoms following a partner’s affair. However, factors contributing to the level of distress experienced by the betrayed individual, and the resulting behaviors are poorly understood. Increasing the understanding of the interplay of individual, marital, and distress factors could inform, and potentially improve, therapeutic interventions for betrayed partners. The current study hypothesized that women and individuals with children are more likely to experience clinically significant distress and trauma-like symptoms following the discovery of a partner’s infidelity. Additionally, the current study hypothesized that individuals with a longer relationship duration have higher levels of clinically significant distress and trauma-like symptoms following the discovery of a partner’s infidelity, and that lower education attainment is positively correlated to clinically significant distress and trauma-like symptoms following the discovery of a partner’s infidelity. An online survey was completed by 112 individuals who had experienced a partner’s infidelity while in a committed relationship. The survey collected demographic information, relationship information, and screened for depression (PHQ-9), anxiety (GAD-7), and trauma-like symptoms (PCL-5). Findings revealed that the majority of participants met or exceeded clinically significant depression symptoms (71.6%), anxiety symptoms (66.4%), and trauma-like symptoms (73.9%), with an average PHQ9 score of 14.07, GAD7 score of 12.61, and PCL-5 score of 43.04. The current study did not reveal a significant difference in distress levels based on gender identification, did not find a connection between distress levels and duration of the relationship, and did not find a significant correlation between education attainment and distress. However, contrary to the prediction, individuals with children had lower levels of depressive symptoms t(93), = -2.71, p = .008, d = -.640 and anxious symptoms t(96), = -2.29, p = .026, d = -.538. Clinical recommendations focus on the importance of recognizing and validating the intense emotional reactions of the betrayed partner.
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McCarty, Melissa, "Clinically Significant Distress Post-Infidelity" (2023). Professional Psychology Dissertations 2015-. 92.