Understanding Infidelity Forgiveness: An Application of Implicit Theories of Relationships

Ashley E. Thompson, Dallas Capesius, Danica Kulibert, Randi A. Doyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Two studies were conducted to identify variables associated with hypothetical infidelity forgiveness and promote forgiveness by manipulating implicit theories of relationships (ITRs; destiny/growth beliefs). Study 1 assessed the relationship between the type of behaviour, sex of the forgiver, ITRs and infidelity forgiveness. Study 2 investigated the causal relationship between ITRs and infidelity forgiveness (including attachment insecurity as a moderator). Results revealed that male participants forgave a partner's infidelity to a greater extent than female participants and that solitary behaviours were rated as most forgivable, followed by emotional/affectionate and technology/online behaviours, and sexual/explicit behaviours as least forgivable. Male participants (not female participants) induced to endorse growth beliefs forgave a partner's emotional/affectionate and solitary infidelity to a greater extent than those induced to endorse destiny beliefs; attachment insecurity moderated this relationship. These results have important implications for researchers and practitioners working with couples in distress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2
JournalJournal of Relationships Research
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Australian Academic Press Pty Ltd 2020.


  • gender differences
  • implicit theories of relationships
  • infidelity forgiveness
  • romantic attachment


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