Reiss Extramarital Sexual Permissiveness Scale

Reiss Extramarital Sexual Permissiveness Scale

IRA L. REISS,University of Minnesota

This scale was designed to measure whether people would accept extramarital coitus for themselves under any of four culturally relevant situations.

Description

The four questions combine two important aspects of an extramarital relationship: One aspect focuses on whether the extramarital relation is pleasure-centered or love-centered, and the other aspect focuses on whether one’s mate accepts or rejects their partner having that sort of extra- marital relationship. Together these aspects produce a way of classifying four types of extramarital relationships and measuring the degree of extramarital sexual permissive- ness. One can then check responses by gender and other demographic variables.

The scale can be answered by those in a marital relationship or by those not married. The unmarried people can answer in terms of how they think they would respond if they were married. I suggest that all respondents be asked to answer the same four questions in two formats—one assuming the marriage they are in is unhappy and the other assuming that the marriage is happy. The differences in these responses would be a measure of the importance of marital happiness.

In research I carried out on four national samples, I found that three factors had a direct impact on what is accepted or rejected in extramarital attitudes: educational level, attitude toward premarital sexuality, and level of marital happiness (Reiss, 2006; Reiss, Anderson, & Sponaugle, 1980). I would suggest that any research into extramarital sexual- ity probe these three powerful predictors of extramarital sexual permissiveness as well as other predictors that can be tested (Buunk & Bakker, 1995; Hansen, 1987; Reiss & Miller, 1979; Weis & Jurich, 1985; Weis & Slosnerick, 1981).

Response Mode and Timing

There are four response categories to each of the four questions: (a) Definitely, (b) Probably, (c) Unlikely, (d) Never. Assuming that you would ask these four questions twice—once asking the respondent to assume that he/she is in a happy marriage and once assuming that he/she is in an unhappy marriage—it would take a respondent about 5 or 6 minutes to answer all the questions.

Scoring

Respondents do seem to like having four answer categories but, for scaling purposes, I suggest dichotomizing the answers by counting “Definitely” or “Probably” as an affirmative response and counting “Unlikely” or “Never” as a rejecting response and giving one point for each question that the respondent affirms. I would, of course, do this scor- ing separately for the unhappy marriage condition and the happy marriage condition. So the top score in each of the two scales would be 4 and the lowest score would be 0. I would add that one could gain a rough measure of the equalitarianism of the respondents by asking them if they would have any problem if their mates gave the same answers as they did. Further, if you were studying married couples, it would be worthwhile to compare the scale scores of the two people in the marriage.

Reliability

Reliability can be established by noting that the scales have always met the general Guttman criteria concerning the coefficient of reproducibility and the coefficient of scalability.

Validity

My colleagues and I analyzed four different nationally representative samples from four different years to test for the best predictors of extramarital sexual permissiveness (Reiss et al., 1980). The national samples were carried out by the National Opinion Research Center. Our results were tested and supported by these different samples.

Construct validity was also established by finding the expected differences between men and women and between religiously devout and nondevout groups of people (Banfield & McCabe, 2001; Sponaugle, 1993). In addition, other researchers reported finding the pleasure/love and mate accepts/rejects aspects of my scale important in their work on measuring extramarital acceptance (Banfield & McCabe, 2001; Glass & Wright, 1992; Saunders & Edwards, 1984; Treas & Giesen, 2000).

Other Information

I give permission to use this scale in any research study. I would ask to be kept informed of such use and of any results of these studies. A researcher could use this same scale and just change “marriage” to a “committed relation- ship” and study cohabitation and other intimate dyadic arrangements. The researcher would then be measuring Extradyadic Sexual Permissiveness, and the results could be compared to those for studies of Extramarital Sexual Permissiveness.

Address correspondence to Ira L. Reiss, 5932 Medicine Lake Road, Minneapolis, MN 55422; e-mail: [email protected]

Reiss Extramarital Sexual Permissiveness Scale

Answer in terms of your personal values concerning what you would accept in your marriage under the conditions stated. If you are not currently married, answer in terms of a possible future marriage.

  1. Would you accept extramarital sexual intercourse in which physical pleasure is your focus even though your mate would not accept your having such a relationship?

    1. Definitely b) Probably c) Unlikely d) Never

  2. Would you accept extramarital sexual intercourse in which physical pleasure is your focus if your mate would accept your having this type of relationship?

    1. Definitely b) Probably c) Unlikely d) Never

  3. Would you accept extramarital sexual intercourse in which love is emphasized even though your mate would not accept your having such a relationship?

    1. Definitely b) Probably c) Unlikely d) Never

  4. Would you accept extramarital sexual intercourse in which love is emphasized if your mate would accept your having this type of relationship?

               a. Definitely b) Probably c) Unlikely d) Never

 

Note. Ask the single people to assume they are in a happy marriage when answering these four questions and then give them these same four questions again and ask them to assume they are in an unhappy marriage. Also ask married people to answer these questions twice—once for being in a happy marriage and once for being in an unhappy marriage. At the end, for married people, you should ask if in their own marriage they feel they are closer to a happy marriage or closer to an unhappy marriage.

References

Banfield, S., & McCabe, M. P. (2001). Extra relationship involvement among women: Are they different from men? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 30, 119–142.

Buunk, B. P., & Bakker, A. B. (1995). Extradyadic sex: The role of descriptive and injunctive norms. The Journal of Sex Research, 32, 313–318. Glass, S. P., & Wright, T. L. (1992). Justifications for extramarital relationships: The association between attitudes, behaviors, and gender. The Journal of Sex Research, 29, 361–387.

Hansen, G. L. (1987). Extradyadic relations during courtship. The Journal of Sex Research, 23, 382–390.

Reiss, I. L. (2006). An insider’s view of sexual science since Kinsey. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Reiss, I. L., Anderson, R., & Sponaugle, G. C. (1980). A multivariate model of the determinants of extramarital sexual permissiveness. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 42, 395–411.

Reiss, I. L., & Miller, B. C. (1979). Heterosexual permissiveness: A theoretical analysis. In W. Burr, R. Hill, I. Nye and I. L. Reiss (Eds.), Contemporary theories about the family (Vol. 1, pp. 55–100). New York: Free Press.

Saunders, J. M., & Edwards, J. N. (1984). Extramarital sexuality: A predictive model of permissive attitudes. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 46, 825–835.

Sponaugle, G. C. (1993). A study of attitudes toward extramarital relations. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Treas, J., & Giesen, D. (2000). Sexual infidelity among married and cohabiting Americans. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 48–60.

Weis, D. L., & Jurich, J. (1985). Size of community of residence as a predictor of attitudes toward extramarital sexual relations. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 47, 173–178.

Weis, D. L., & Slosnerick, M. (1981). Attitudes toward sexual and non sexual extramarital involvements among a sample of college students. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 43, 349–358.