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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 114 (2014) 339 345

4th World Conference on Psychology, Counselling and Guidance WCPCG-2013

Investigating Personality Trait and Pre-Marital Affair with Opposite

Sex among University Students of Sanandaj City
Ata Shakeriana*, Ali-Mohammad Nazari b, Mohsen Masoomi c,
Painaz Ebrahimi d
Department of Eductational Sciences & Psychology,Sanandaj Branch, Islamic Azad University, Sanandaj,Iran
Department of Counseling, Faculty of Psychology & Educational Sciences, University of Kharazmi, Tehran, Iran
Department of English, Sanandaj Branch, Islamic Azad University, Sanandaj, Iran
Faculty of Psychology & Educational Sciences, University of Kharazmi, Hesarak Campus, Karaj, Iran


The present study investigates the occurrence of communication and friendship among male and female university students of
Sanandaj city by considering their personality traits (Neuroticism, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Openness, and
Conscientiousness). Contrary to the other studies in this field, which focused their attention on individual, social, and family
factors, this study investigates the role of personality trait on tendency toward accepting these affairs. Research population in this
descriptive-correlation study includes male and female university students from Post-diploma to M.A level at state and non-state
universities of Sanandaj. Sampling is done by two-phase random cluster sampling method which considers all the samples in
second phase in the mentioned cluster (male and female students of each class). Totally 467 university students in 23 cluster or
class took part in this study in the second educational semester of 2010-2011. Descriptive results of this study are in accordance
with other related studies in this field. Regression analysis of the results proves that neuroticism and extraversion personality trait
have a meaningful contribution toward the pre-marital affair with the opposite sex.Pre-marital affair with opposite sex among
university students is highly affected by their personality traits.

2013 The
The Authors.
Ltd.Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
Selection and
Selection and peer-review
Prof. Dr. World
Tlay Bozkurt,
EducationIstanbul KulturCenter.
and Research University, Turkey
Keywords: Personality trait, Neuroticism, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Openness, Conscientiousness, Attitude, Tendency,
Opposite sex, Pre-marital affair;

1. Introduction

Male and female pre-married affair and companionship is one of the alteration factors in the cultural realm of the
transitory state of our community. Prevalence of new sexual transactions like male and female friendship indicates
that the rethinking process of the youth in their sexual behavior has been highly accelerated (Rajabloo & Asghari,
2010). In recent years, this phenomenon has emerged in its new fashion from the interpersonal relationship of the

* Corresponding name:Ata Shakerian. Tel.: +98-939-171-0514


1877-0428 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Academic World Education and Research Center.
340 Ata Shakerian et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 114 (2014) 339 345

younger proportion of the society, due to structural and social changes like the expansion of urbanism,
industrialization, increasing women presence in social areas, expansion of men and women co-presence places, and
quantitative and qualitative expansion of mass media. Friendship relationship with the opposite sex would mean a
relationship between two sexually-potent human beings with different genders, for the purpose of exchanging
kindness, intimacy, affection, love and . These concepts are exchanged through direct dialogue (telephone, global
communications networks, correspondence, and ), and non-verbal means (gestures, physical contacts, and ).
From the perspective of the religious and cultural value system of a majority of the [Iranian] society, these
communications are seen as contradictory, since such male and female companionships are prohibited and are
approved of only under certain conditions and religious formalities. Regarding the Islamic viewpoint, the sole way
to build a sound and righteous relationship with the opposite sex is marriage. This act is the best way to build an
intimate relationship with the opposite sex (Zinati, 2003). With no or little consideration to its religious dimensions,
this type of relationship is a phenomenon whose generalization and normalization route could be observed-with little
attention and precision given to-in the concrete atmosphere of social interactions (Ghasemi, 2004). Studies
conducted in this field show a growing tendency and inclination towards these friendships among the younger
proportion of the society (Movahed, et al., 2006). Zakayis findings (2005) in the non-student population also show
that 69.5% of the respondents (youngsters in Tehran) had a friend from the opposite sex. Studies conducted at
universities indicate that 54 to 58 percent of the students have experienced a pre-marital friendship relationship
(Khalajabadi Farahani & Mehryar, 2010). Ghasemis results in his investigation (2004) at Isfahan Industrial
University showed that 37.5 percent of the students under study had intimate friend or friends from the opposite sex.
Movahed et al.s study (2006) conducted over Shiraz university shows the students positive attitude towards male
and female relationships and only 23.6 percent of the students had a negative attitude towards the notion. According
to the conducted studies, various individual and social factors are in connection with the opposite sex relationships:
individual factors like age and sex (Kiragu, 1993) and social factors like friends families (Kirby, 2002; Alexander
et al., 2003, as quoted in Khalajabadi, 2010). Also Mirzayi and Baraghmadis study (2011) depicted a connection
between the tendency towards media, the way internet is used, friends circumstances, the tendency towards hijab,
the respondents and their families attitudes towards religion and the tendency towards the opposite sex
relationships. Apart from individual and social factors, personality traits affect the opposite sex tendency as well.
Although no totally relevant study was found in this area, conducted studied generally shout that personality traits
are in connection will all human functions (Barelds & Dijkstra, 2011). Researchers believe that five great
personality factors can predict behaviors and conceptions in binary interactions (Cuperman & Ickes, 2009). The
research conducted on the connection between five great personality factors and the quality of love relationships
show that personality factors have consistent connection with the quality of these relationships (Holland & Roisman,
2008). Some studies show that sexual interests have negative relation to extraversion and positive relation to
introversion personality traits (Miri, et al., 2011). Also Lewandowski, Aron, and Gees study (2007) showed that the
tendency towards the opposite sex is affected by non-physical factors like personality traits, that is personality of
individuals plays a role in determining their appeal, and being informed of personality traits of the opposite sex
affects their tendency to keep their relationship or to avoid it. Coopers study (2010) showed that there exist
meaningful interpersonal differences in sexual behaviors, and these differences are logically justifiable and
predictable through interpersonal differences in personality. Some researchers believe that being informed of the
opposite sexs good and desirable personality traits leads to a tendency towards him or her as a friend or partner and
even increases physical appeal (Walker, et al., 2011). With respect to lacking such a study in Iran, and also the fact
that domestic studies in this area have mostly been conducted revolving around quantitative methodology, scale
technique, and at intervals as a common point, and have mainly been attitude-assessing in nature, this research aims
at studying the role of personality traits in male and female pre-marital affair with the opposite sex attitude in
Sanandaj universities. The approach implemented in this investigation is fundamentally exploratory and is upon the
theoretical bases of NEO-five factor inventory assessment (Costa & McCrae, 1989) which is one of the most
efficient and comprehensive personality theories. The general hypothesis considered in this investigation is that
attitude and inclination towards pre-marital affair with the opposite sex as an ordinary friendship or beyond that as
Ata Shakerian et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 114 (2014) 339 345 341

a sexual relationship can be connected to personality traits (neuroticism, extraversion, conscientiousness,

agreeableness, and openness).

2. Methodology

Research methodology in statistical population, sampling; this study is based on correlation analysis (regression
analysis, in which students five great personality factors as predictor variables and holding a pre-marital affair with
the opposite sex as criterion variable are considered). Research population consists of male and female students at
Sanandaj universities studying at state and non-state sectors ranging from post-diploma to master students for the
second semester of 2010-2011. Sampling was conducted in two-phase cluster random method with respect to all
samples in the second phase in the respective cluster (male and female students in each classroom). On the basis of
size proportion sampling, the number of respective samples in each educational group or class was calculated;
thereafter, according to the university type another sampling layer was defined for each university type in the
classification process. A total number of 467 university students in 23 clusters or class or class in 2010-2011 second
semester participated in the study. Clusters were collected randomly with equal chance and without replacement
from the aforesaid universities until respective sampling was accomplished for each university. A number of 43
collected questionnaires were deficient and final sampling was conducted based on 400 male and female students,
which were analyzed applying descriptive data such as mean-point and standard deviation and inferential data such
as liner regression.

3. Assessment Instruments

Three questionnaires were implemented to collect information. The constituted questionnaire consisted of 14
items; each depending on the level of penetration had some secondary items, which consisted of some demographic
information about the students such as age, sex, accommodation status, level of education, university entrance data
and also some questions about their relationships and the form of their relationships with the opposite sex. (NEO-
FFI) NEO-Five factor inventory was also implemented. NEO-Five factor inventory consists of 60 items based on
Likert scale (1, totally agree and 5, totally disagree) which assesses five great personality factors (12 items for each
factor, namely extraversion, accommodation, responsibility, neurosis, and openness), thereafter each factors score
is calculated and eventually five score are obtained. Questionnaires reliability coefficient (re-assessment) results in
a sampling of U.S. students were between 0.75 to 0.83 for a 3-month period, final long term coefficient (6 years) for
neurosis, extraversion, and openness scales for an amplitude of 0.68 to 0.83, and for accommodation and
responsibility streaks (for a 2 year term) were reported respectively 0.79 and 0.63 (Costa & McCrae, 1989). Internal
consistency coefficient for Iranian students for each streak of neurosis, extraversion, openness, accommodation, and
responsibility were respectively 0.86, 0.73, 0.56, 0.68, and 0.87 with their internal correlation coefficients being
0.56 to 0.87. Simultaneous descriptive study of the questionnaire through the personal report and observer
assessment forms correlations was between 0.45 for accommodation streak to 0.66 for extraversion (Garrosi Farshi,
2000). Also in Kiamehr study (2002) this questionnaires reliability was determined between 0.41 to 0.75 in
correlation coefficient of simultaneous descriptions between the questionnaires short and long formats on 380
Tehran university students, and between 0.65 to 0.86 in the perpetual study from re-assessment of correlation
coefficient perspective between the two administrations for the questionnaire factors. The coefficient outcome of
this questionnaires internal consistency with Cronbach alpha is 0.54 to 0.79. In Ahadis study, the final coefficient
of the five factors was between 0.48 and 0.68 in terms of Cronbach alpha. Five main dimensions can be included in
this questionnaire. Neuroticism (N) shows the individuals inclination towards experiencing anxiety, tension,
sympathy-seeking, hostility, impulsiveness, depression, and low self-esteem; while extraversion (E) deals with the
individuals inclination towards positiveness, assertiveness, and hyper-energeticness. Openness (O) deals with the
individuals inclination towards curiosity, passion for art, artistry, openness, and rationalism; while agreeableness
(A) is related to the individuals inclination towards compassionateness, kindness, generosity, sympathy and
consultativeness, humanism, and trustfulness. And finally conscientiousness (C) shows the individuals inclination
342 Ata Shakerian et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 114 (2014) 339 345

towards punctuality, efficiency, trustworthiness and reliance, being self-disciplinarian, progressiveness, rationality,
and mildness. Another questionnaire taken into consideration is the pre-marital affair attitude questionnaire. This
questionnaire was constituted by Kordlou (2001) to study the tendency and attitude of high school students towards
pre-marital affair in Tehran, and was scored from totally disagree to totally agree on the basis of Likert five degree
scale. The tests descriptiveness has been assessed by prominent national figures in psychology and has been
experimented for reliability in three tests on census sample, and perpetuity of 93% has been consistently emphasized
during 1380-1387. With respect to the tests reliability on high school students, the tests textual descriptiveness on
university students was re-assessed and emphasized, utilizing the theories of various experts in sociology and
psychology fields. Utilizing Cronbach alpha, internal consistency of the scales was scrutinized. For most of the
scales, Cronbach alpha was higher than 80 percent, and the tests total reliability was 0.913.

4. Findings

All 400 students (43.5% female and 56.5% male) took part in the survey, their mean age being 22, 49.5% of whom
being local and the rest non-local, studying at different levels (16.5) post diploma, (81.5) Bachelor, (6.5) Master.
65% of the sample under survey stated that they had experienced friendship with the opposite sex in the form of
telephone contact (36%), chat (9.5%), going on picnics (29%), physical contact (22.5%), and sexual relationship
(20%). 48.5% of the sample under survey admitted having had friendships with the opposite sex.

Table1. Respondents distribution in terms of the variables under investigation and their respective descriptive statistics

Gender Residential status Educational level Entrance in university(year)

Personal Age
characteristics (average) Non- Post-
Female Male Local BA MA 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
local diploma
22.33 43.5 56.5 49.5 50.5 16.5 77 6.5 5 11.5 24 39.5 20
Having a friendship Having multiple friends
Type of relationship
Social with opposite sex from opposite sex
Chat Three
characteristics Giving Prome- Sexual
Yes No Telephone on Flirting None One Two &
gifts nade contact
internet more
Percentage 65 35 36 9.5 19.5 29 22.5 20 34 17.5 8.5 40

Regression model in table 2 indicates that personality traits of neuroticism and extraversion have meaningful
relationship with pre-marital affair attitude. The meaningful level for neuroticism personality is (p=0.02) in which
case B is equal to 0.176 and R2 is equal to 0.014, that is to say neuroticism explains 1.4% of the total changes related
to pre-marital affair attitude towards the opposite sex, and for extraversion is (p=0.00) in which case B is equal to
0.285 and R2 is equal to 0.39, that is to say extraversion explains 3.4% of the total changes related to pre-marital
affair attitude with the opposite sex. Linear regression analysis showed no meaningful relationship between
personality traits of agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness with pre-marital affair with the opposite sex.

Table 2. Linear regression model in investigating personality traits in pre-marital affair attitude with the opposite sex in
Sanandaj university students

Standard Significance
Variable R R2 B Beta T-statistics
deviation level
Neuroticism .116 .014 .075 -.176 -.116 -2.338 .020
Extraversion .185 .034 .069 -.258 -.185 -3.747 .000
Agreeableness .095 .009 .085 .159 .094 1.884 .060
Openness .073 .005 .094 -.137 -.073 -1.464 .144
Conscientiousness .090 .008 .076 .136 .090 1.796 .073
Ata Shakerian et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 114 (2014) 339 345 343

5. Discussion and Conclusion

In this article the attempt has been on investigating and evaluating male and female relationships at universities
with respect to their personality traits. Different from previous studies on pre-marital affair with the opposite sex
which stressed upon individual, social, and family factors, this study considers the impact of personality traits
implementing NEO-Five factor inventory in the tendency towards these relationships, even though there is a
compliance between this studys descriptive findings and other studies among Iranian students in terms of tendency
towards the opposite sex (Khalajabadi Farahani & Mehryar, 2010; Mirzayi & Baraghmadi, 2011; Rajabloo &
Asghari, 2010; Movahed, et al., 2006). Linear regression analysis shows a meaningful relationship between
neuroticism personality trait and pre-marital affair attitude with the opposite sex. In explaining this research finding
it can be asserted that tendency presence in those individuals bearing this personality factor is justifiable due to their
mental and affectional causes. Studies show that neuroticism trait predict depression and emotional instability
(Bowen, et al., 2011). These individuals suffer from affectional instability and negative affections whose
compatibility level is often affected by these items (Shakerian, 2011). Furthermore, neuroticism encompasses
various negative emotions like fear, sorrow, anger, and arousal. These individuals are more likely to possess
irrational beliefs and less control over desires and impulses. Hence a tendency and inclination to the opposite sex
relationships can compensate for their affectional deficiencies and gaps which in some cases could lead to illness
dependencies. In fact these relationships are supposed to be used to overcome fears, anxiety, and complexes, and to
find a reliable rest point to lean against. In other words, these individuals act immaturely in their social interactions
and interpersonal relationships and lack demanded skills to behave appropriately in various social situations. Skills
that have to be acquired, practiced, and considered in order to build and maintain a persistent and healthy
relationship (Hussein Chary & Delavarpour, 2006). Possibly, extreme cases (sexual relationships) show weaknesses
in controlling extinct and desires. Other findings in this investigation show a relationship between extraversion and
pre-marital affair with the opposite sex attitude. These individuals characteristics could be mentioned as
explanatory points in this finding of the investigation. Extraversion is the best predictive factor for participating in
entertainment activities leading to joyfulness (Hill & Argyle, 2001). Extraversion factor is in connection with
positive emotions such as happiness, love, and intimacy. Those individuals who get high scores in extraversion often
disclose their feelings and affections. These individuals are characterized as being sociable and active. Studies show
that extrovert individuals are more appealing in their relationships, and their appeal in second behavior depicts them
as being of a good disposition, good looking, and decent (Meier, et al., 2010). They have a positive notion about
themselves, and are optimistic about the surrounding environment (Meevissen, et al., 2011). Extroverts are sociable,
are in favor of parties, have numerous friends, need to converse with others, show enthusiasm towards stimulation
and emotion, are curious, act abruptly and improvidently, are easily aroused, are improvisatorial, are repartee, are in
front of change and alteration, approve of motion and work, are inclined to aggressiveness, act frantically, are not
able to restrain their feelings, and are not much stable (Razeghi, et al., 2010). This set of behaviors can act as
simplifying factors in relationships between individuals and their tendency towards the opposite sex in those
possessing these attributes. Nevertheless, some investigators believe that extraversion is of trivial significance in
close relationships formation, and this personality trait is intensively connected to social impact (Toobin et al., 2000,
as quoted in Ahadi, 2007). Other findings of the investigation showed no meaningful relationship between
conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness personality traits and a tendency towards the opposite sex
relationships. The results on meaninglessness of conscientiousness factor with a tendency towards the opposite sex
pre-marital affair, with respect to the fact that the aforesaid factor gives the most stable prediction for problem
solving among the five factors, are elaborated on (DZurilla et al., 2011), and controlling impulse and personal
commitment are considered as important issues in conscientiousness which affect the quality of individuals
behavioral interactions (Jarvis, 2006). These individuals are also able to control their impulses appropriately and are
less likely to resort to drugs, physical aggressiveness, and marital betrayal (Kardok, 1993, as quoted in Ahadi,
2007). Hence, it could be predicted that in Iranian culture individuals possessing this factor are more potent in
344 Ata Shakerian et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 114 (2014) 339 345

problem solving and less likely to depend on pre-marital affair with the opposite sex for solving their problems.
Lack of meaningful relationship between agreeableness factor and the attitude of pre-marital affair with the opposite
sex can be explained based on these individuals characteristics. Researchers, therefore, believe that a high level of
agreeableness causes individuals to modify their emotions in their interpersonal interactions, and to be more mild
and tender in their behaviors. These individuals are able to easily solve conflicts connected to relationships (Watson,
Hubbard & Weise, 2000). Different from neuroticism, which is able to predict only low level problem solving,
openness factor is able to solve high level social problems (DZurilla et al., 2011). These individuals possess
behavioral specifications of good-heartedness, compassionateness, inclination towards arts and rationalism; and
these factors could be attributed to a person who is more bound to religious and cultural values. According to the
findings in this investigation, it could be asserted that pre-marital affair with the opposite sex among students is
affected by their personality traits. Although there exist numerous other personal, social, and cultural factors that
lead to affair between sexes among students, delimiting the sample to this category of students is considered as a
limitation in this investigation and a more extensive study over other students in other universities is suggested. As
the final sum-up, it should be noted that affectional and sexual needs are of fundamental needs of the youth that
affect other behaviors. Due to the cultural specifications of our country, a constitutional, normalized, and legitimate
way must be introduced, since this religious community could be modern as well. Policy-makers and programmers
should prevent social traumas and abnormalities in this area, utilizing western states experiences. Although non-
homogeneous sexual structure at universities has constituted a structural opportunity for the two sexes interaction in
various forms such as pre-marital friendships, and intersexual companionship, and can intensify the situation, mental
structures like attitudes, values, and cultural norms of the community and individuals can resist this structural
pressure and even overlook it.

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