Cognitive Experiences and Reactions of Women to Infidelity: A Phenomenological Study

Authors

1 PhD in Counseling, Department of Family Counseling, School of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran

2 Associate Professor, Department of Counseling, School of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran

3 Professor, Department of Assesment and Measurement, School of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran

4 - Associate Professor, Department of Counseling, School of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran

Abstract

Introduction: Infidelity, as a main cause for marital maladaptiveness and divorce, has important effects on victim’s family and mental health. This study aimed to identify and explain the cognitive reactions and experiences of women victims of infidelity.
Method: The present study employed a qualitative approach along with the interpretative phenomenology method. The study population consisted of women victims of infidelity in Tehran (Shemiranat), Iran, in year 2016. To do so, 18 women who were victims of infidelity were selected through purposive sampling, and investigated by a semi-structured interview. The data elicited from the interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis method.
Results: The data analysis resulted in two main themes, 11 subthemes, and 61 initial concepts. As the first theme, “maladaptive cognitive reactions” consisted “porous religious beliefs”, “suspicion”, “obsession”, “damage in the meaning of life”, “maladaptive decision-making”, “thinking to punish the guilty”, “negative self-evaluating, and “thought disorders” as subthemes. The second main theme was “adaptive cognitive reactions” consisting “positive defensive thoughts”, “appeal to religious beliefs”, and “peace-seeking thoughts for the decision-making” as subthemes.
Conclusion: From cognitive aspect, the infidelity is not experienced homogeneously by all women victims, and the effects of infidelity can be either maladaptive or adaptive. Personality, religious beliefs, having children, and spousal relationship quality contributed to the women victims’ reactions. Given the fact that the findings have been elicited out of a native study, they may play a vital role in developing the intervention packages.

Keywords


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