Shifting Standards 3
What’s Good for the Goose:
Shifting Standards in Perceptions of Infidelity?
Computer-mediated sexual behavior, or cyber-sex, is a new and increasingly popular,
trend in which people use interactive, computer-mediated content for sexual simulation (Maheu
& Subotnik, 2001).
While the numbers do vary, studies suggest that online topics concerning
human sexuality is the most commonly searched topics on the Internet (Dew, Brubaker, & Hays,
2006), 30% or more of the on-line population visit sexual web sites (Drudis, 1999) and at least
12 million people use the web for sexual pleasures that range from viewing sexy pictures to
masturbating while chatting (Collins, 1999).
However, because the behavior lacks physical contact, it may be difficult to determine if
sex has actually occurred (Collins, 1999).
This discrepancy becomes specifically important
when the computer-mediated sexual behavior is extra-dyadic in nature.
While, some suggest
that cybersex is not ‘real sex’ due to the absence of a physical body in cyberspace, others feel
that as it pertains to infidelity, perception is reality.
It can be argued that cyber-sex is actually
mental because one can separate disclosing intimate details with another individual online and
engaging in sexual activities with a tangible individual (Argyle, & Shields, 1996). In a more
recent study, just over 60% of participants did not believe that cyber-sex violates an individual’s
vows (Cooper, Morahan-Martin, Mathy, & Maheu, 2002). Arguably, this is because cyber-sex
does not necessarily involve physical contact from the other person, nor does it involve contact
that is any more intimate than the act of viewing adult or pornographic magazines.
Conversely, although there is no physical body present online, the extra-dyadic sexual act