Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Thou shalt not covet another man? Exploring constructions of same-sex and different-sex infidelity using story completion

Clarke, Victoria; Braun, Virginia; Wooles, Kate


Profile Image

Dr Victoria Clarke
Associate Professor in Qualitative & Critical Psychology

Virginia Braun

Kate Wooles


© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. This study explores conceptualisations of same- versus different-sex infidelity in the context of a heterosexual marriage using story completion. A convenience sample of 57 female and male participants completed one of four versions of a story stem featuring a husband who is either emotionally or sexually unfaithful with a woman or a man. A social constructionist thematic analysis found that same-sex infidelity was conceptualised as the 'worst case scenario' and was underpinned by a heteronormative framing of repressed homosexuality. By contrast, heterosexual infidelity was understood in terms of relational deficits and the wife assuming responsibility for these. Overall, the analysis shows that in making sense of same-sex and heterosexual infidelity, the participants drew on familiar discourses of sexuality and gender, suggesting that despite social psychological theorising related to sexual fluidity, essentialist ideas remain firmly in place. Methodologically, the study demonstrates the usefulness of a rarely used tool-the story completion task-for accessing socio-cultural discourses and dominant meanings surrounding a particular topic.


Clarke, V., Braun, V., & Wooles, K. (2015). Thou shalt not covet another man? Exploring constructions of same-sex and different-sex infidelity using story completion. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 25(2), 153-166.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Deposit Date Jul 1, 2014
Journal Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Print ISSN 1052-9284
Electronic ISSN 1099-1298
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 2
Pages 153-166
Keywords emotional infidelity, heteronormativity, heterosexual relationships, qualitative research, same-sex relationships, sexual infidelity, thematic analysis
Public URL
Publisher URL
Related Public URLs


Thou Shalt Not Covet Another Man Clarke et al 11 June.docx (54 Kb)

You might also like

Downloadable Citations