August 16, 2022

Studied: He Sexts, She Sexts More, Report Says

THE SOURCE “Let My Fingers Do the Talking: Sexting and Infidelity in Cyberspace,” by Diane Kholos Wysocki and Cheryl D. Childers, “Sexuality and Culture.”

FOR those trying to avoid their own Weinergate, the repercussions of sexting and other forms of online dalliance extend far beyond New York’s Ninth Congressional District.

But it’s not just women on the receiving end. At least according to a recent study by Diane Kholos Wysocki, a professor of sociology and women’s studies at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and Cheryl D. Childers, a professor of sociology at Washburn University, women are more likely to send nude photographs or sexually explicit text messages than men. About two-thirds of women surveyed sent such missives compared with roughly half the men (although for reasons to be explained later, these results are not the most scientific).

“Cheating is alive and well, and sexting is on the rise,” said Dr. Kholos Wysocki, whose first study of sex on the Internet dates to 1992, back in the dial-up days. “But I don’t believe the Internet is causing people to cheat. There seems to be something going on with marriage that’s the bigger social issue. Before, people would just get a divorce. For some reason, people are staying and cheating instead.”

Dr. Kholos Wysocki’s current study used a rather unusual data set: an online survey of 5,187 adult visitors to the Web site, an “infidelity” service aimed at married men and women, as its basis for analysis. Conducted in 2009, the survey asked 68 questions about users’ Internet use, sexual behaviors and demographics.

Women were also more likely to meet people in real life after meeting them online (83 percent of women compared with 67 percent of men). But they were less likely to be anxious about being caught looking at sexually explicit material and less cautious than men about sweeping up their cybertrails. Dr. Kholos Wysocki was not surprised. “I know young men who are constantly getting naked pictures from women they know on their phones,” she said. “They’re constant!”

But there are major caveats to the study: Surveying users of a Web site for swingers does not compare to taking a nationally representative poll or conducting a community study. The people who responded to the survey differ from the general population in many respects; most significantly, they are actual or would-be cheaters. They are also people who visit a particular cheating Web site, which may differ in clientele from other cheating sites.

Finally, the respondents were people who elected to respond to a voluntary survey and therefore differ from those people who visit that Web site but do not have the time or the inclination to fill out a survey. This is called self-selection and makes generalizing about the entire population unreliable. In the end, the group skewed more educated, more affluent and older than the general population.

Still, the study does offer insight into the world of online infidelity. According to the research, respondents were more interested in finding real-life partners than in virtual infidelity. Seems like technology may alter certain social behaviors, but when it comes to sexual betrayal, scoundrels and hussies still prefer the old-fashioned afternoon rendezvous.

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