Voters do not always walk the talk when it comes to infidelity

July 12, 2018, Springer

Democrats, who generally have a more liberal take on sexual matters, were least likely to use an adultery dating service, while members of the conservative Libertarian party had the greatest tendency to do so. This is according to an analysis of leaked user data from Ashley Madison, a website that connects married people who want to cheat on their partner. Greens and voters not registered to any party used the site more than Democrats, whereas Republicans used it more still, but less than Libertarians. The findings by Kodi Arfer of the University of California Los Angeles and Jason Jones of Stony Brook University, both in the US, are presented in Springer's journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Most polls about people's opinions on sexual matters, such as premarital sex, and prostitution, are based on self-report questionnaires. However, there are often discrepancies between reported and actual . For example, adultery is fairly common, although this behavior is typically frowned upon. In a recent General Social Survey, 17 per cent of Americans acknowledged having had an extramarital affair.

To get a more accurate representation of how well views agree with behavior, Arfer and Jones analyzed user data from the Ashley Madison adultery website that was leaked in 2015. Until 2016, the website's slogan was 'Life is short. Have an affair.' Arfer and Jones linked credit card payments made via the website with voter registration records from California, Florida, Kansas, New York and Oklahoma. The analysis took account of people without political membership, Republicans, Democrats and those registered with two of the larger minor parties, Green and Libertarian.

In all, 80,000 matches were made between the 200,000 Ashley Madison user accounts and the 50 million voters registered in the five states. The chances that a registered spent money on Ashley Madison with the intent to cheat in a romantic relationship varied substantially based on their political party. Libertarians were most likely to use the site, and Democrats least likely. Republicans, Greens, and unaffiliated voters fell in between.

"The general pattern seems to be that members of more conservative or more right-wing parties used Ashley Madison more often," explains Arfer. "Our results are perhaps the strongest evidence yet that people with more sexually conservative values, although they claim to act accordingly, are paradoxically more sexually deviant in practice than their more sexually liberal peers."

The researchers speculate that this discrepancy can be linked to aspects of sexual conservatism and religion that often frown upon the sharing of knowledge about sexuality, frank discussions and even formal sex education. Another possibility is that many people endorse conservative sexual attitudes strategically, rather than out of earnest belief.

"People could be interested in taboo sexual behavior, such as adultery, but wish to hide it. To deflect suspicion, they could claim to be particularly committed to sexual restraint," Jones explains.

Explore further: Ashley Madison adultery website hacked for user data

More information: Kodi B. Arfer et al, American Political-Party Affiliation as a Predictor of Usage of an Adultery Website, Archives of Sexual Behavior (2018). DOI: 10.1007/s10508-018-1244-1

Related Stories

Ashley Madison adultery website hacked for user data

July 20, 2015

The adultery website Ashley Madison said Monday that customers' data had been stolen by hackers and said the breach had been fixed, though media reports said users' information had been briefly posted online.

Ashley Madison hackers vow more attacks: report

August 21, 2015

The hacking group behind the Ashley Madison breach compared the affair-seeking website to "a drug dealer abusing addicts" in an email exchange threatening to carry out more attacks.

Recommended for you

8 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dirk_bruere
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 12, 2018
Libertarians are not conservatives
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Jul 12, 2018
So much for the 'family values' parties (...as if anyone needed more proof)
Eikka
not rated yet Jul 12, 2018
It's not a paradox that people who see certain unwanted behaviour among their peers are the more vocal opponents of it.

The question the article is begging is assuming that it's the exact same people who go on to cheating sites, and then turn around to preach against infidelity.

Then again, the same observation could be made that people who talk against drug use tend to be ex-druggies themselves.
schultzy2012
5 / 5 (1) Jul 12, 2018
Now that a social "scientist" has absurdly labeled libertarians conservative, can we finally decouple the awkward word pairing of social and science? It has long been painful to those of us who studied actual science. Social philosophy would be much more accurate and much less offensive. It would also be appreciated if they would stop calling their hypotheses "theories;" it only heighten the aforementioned offense. Social philosophers pretending to be scientists? Seems not unlike adulterers claiming to be moral beacons for everyone else, eh?
Eikka
not rated yet Jul 14, 2018
absurdly labeled libertarians conservative


Conservative can mean two things: people who belong to the Republican party, and people who take the political stance of conserving previous values such as liberty, equality and brotherhood. In another society, "conservatives" might be trying to return to aristocracy/royalty, and yet in other societies conservatives might be trying to re-instate socialism.

Libertarians are conservatives in the second sense, because they're arguing for values shared by the founding fathers, who were btw. technically left wing at their point of history, until the left re-defined "liberty" to mean subservience to the state a'la Hegel/Marx (freedom as a collective rather than an individual).

dudester
not rated yet Jul 15, 2018
Libertarians are in fact so-called fiscal conservatives, in that they are opposed to taxation and spending by government (or for that matter the existence of government) on much of anything but perhaps the police, fire departments, and military and no regulatory oversight of the economy or controls on laissez faire capitalism. Plus, they are eager to outline the differences between libertarian and libertine, and it is in this area that these findings are most interesting.
schultzy2012
not rated yet Jul 17, 2018
... And if the context of the paper or the article had been centered around fiscal or regulatory issues, your parsing of the usage of "conservative" would absolutely have merit; noting a difference between common usage and field specific jargon. This is not the case. The contextualization occurs within the sphere of personal social attitudes and behaviors. The label does not make any particular sense. That is, of course, unless you are dealing with the incredibly common constructed worldview that exists within sociology departments. Having been exposed to such departments far more than I would have cared to, I found the curriculum and instructors lacking greatly in breadth and intellectual diversity. Ending exasperated rant. Having done so, I may take a second look at the item Dudester mentioned in regards to libertine v libertarian. Whether I think it is flawed or not, there could still be something interesting contained within. That is the value of actual diversity.
schultzy2012
not rated yet Jul 17, 2018
... unintentional duplicate

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.