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“Infidelity and Betrayal in

Marriage:
A Content Analysis of Men Who
Cheat in Hollywood Films”

By: Carolyn Logan


Persuasive Purpose
 To analyze how extramarital affairs, as
related to the male midlife “crisis” has
been constructed in media, specifically in
Hollywood films from the 1950s to 2005.
 The data collected from this analysis of
films is utilized to identify a trend and the
changes occurred over a period of time
Previous Literature
 Male Power and Status
– Gutmann (1997)
– Richardson (1988)

 Motives for Sexual Intimacy in Affair


– Fair (1978)
– Farrer and Zhongzin (2003)

 Gender Differences
- Buunk (1984)
- Gordon (1990)
- Farrer and Zhongzin (2003)
THEORY
 Social Construction of Masculinity
– Gutmann (1997) Masculinity Defined
– Testi (1997) Hegemonic masculinity
– Bordo (1999) The Male Body: A New Look at Men in
Public and in Private
Methodology
 Data was obtained through a content analysis of
American films to assess how movies construct a
married man having an affair.
 The sample of films used was released between the
1950s and the year 2005.
 The sample population was obtained from a list of
movies found on the Internet Movie Database,
amazon.com, and msn.com.
 Final sample size of 34 films
 Stratified, random selection of films made for a total final
sample of 12 films.
 Coding
2005
1983
1984 1980
1987

1979 2005

1955 1990
1960 1978 1997
Findings
Demographic characteristics of adulterous
men in film

100% White, 100% Heterosexual

Age 58% (40s), 25% (20s), 17% (30s)


1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s Total

Average 45 42 41 33 32 31 37
Age

50% Upper/Upper Middle Class, 33% Middle

More than half of men had children (67%)


TABLE 1: Adulterous Husband’s Occupation
Films by Decades
1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
Business Business Business Business Mobster Business
1/1 1/1 1/2 (50%) 2/4 (50%) 1/2 (50%) 2/2
(100%) (100%) Education Education N/A 1/2 (50%) (100%)
1/2 (50%) 1/4 (25%)
Constructio
n 1/4 (25%)

The most common occupation was a businessman


(58%), including accountants, bankers, attorneys,
and others.
TABLE 2: Lover’s Marital Status
1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s Total

Single 1/1 1/1 0/2 4/4 1/2 2/2 9/12


(100%) (100%) (0%) (100%) (50%) (100%) (75%)

Married 0/1 0/1 1/2 0/4 1/2 0/2 2/12


(0%) (100%) (50%) (0%) (50%) (0%) (17%)

Divorced 0/1 0/1 1/2 0/1 0/1 0/1 1/12


(0%) (0%) (50%) (0%) (0%) (0%) (8%)
TABLE 3: Event’s Leading to Time for Affair
Lied to Wife 8/12 (67%)

Works Late 6/12 (50%)

Sees Lover During the Day 5/12 (42%)

Took Lover to Nightclub/Bar 5/12 (42%)

Cheated While Away on 4/12 (33%)


Business
Cheated While Wife was 2/12 (17%)
Away
TABLE 4: HUSBAND/LOVER RELATIONSHIP
1950s & 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s Total
1960s
WHERE THE Husband’s Lover’s Apt.1/2 Lover’s Lover’s Lover’s Lover’s Apt.6/12
AFFAIR TOOK Apt.2/2 (50%) Apt.2/4 Apt.2/2 Apt.1/2 (50%)
PLACE (100%) Hotel 1/2 (50%) (50%) (100%) (50%) Hotel 4/12 (33%)
Hotel 2/4 Hotel Husband’s
(50%) 1/2 Apt.2/12 (17%)
(50%)
FORM OF Meeting Telephone 1/2 Telephone Meeting Both 2/2 Meeting Places
COMMUNICATIO Places 2/2 (50%) 3/4 (75%) Places 1/2 (100%) 4/12 (33%)
N BTW. (100%) Both 1/2 (50%) Meeting (50%) Telephone 4/12
HUSBAND AND Places 1/4 Both 1/2 (33%)
LOVER (25%) (50%) Both 4/12 (33%)
HOW HUSBAND Neighbors Nightclub/Bar Work 2/4 Nightclub/Bar Work Nightclub/Bar
MET HIS LOVER 2/2 (100%) 1/2 (50%) (50%) 1/2 (50%) 1/2 4/12 (33%)
Away on Nightclub Neighbors 1/2 (50%) Work 3/12 (25%)
Business 1/2 1/4 (25%) (50%) Family Away on
(50%) Away on 1/2 Business 2/12
Business (50%) (17%)
1/2 (25%) Neighbors 2/12
Called for (17%)
Hooker 1/4 Family 1/12 (8%)
(25%) Called for Hooker
1/12 (8%)
TABLE 5: MOTIVE AND CONSEQUENCE OF AFFAIR
1950s & 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s Total
1960s

MOTIVE Attraction Attraction Attraction 3/4 (75%) Attraction 2/2 Attraction 2/2 Attraction 11/12
2/2 (100%) 2/2 (100%) Marital Deprivation (100%) (100%) (92%)
4/4 (100%) Marital Marital Marital Deprivation
Pressure 2/4 (50%) Deprivation Deprivation 6/12 (50%)
Sexual 1/2 (50%) 1/2 (50%) Pressure 5/12 (42%)
Circumstances 1/4 Sexual Variety Sexual Variety Sexual Variety 3/12
(25%) 1/2 (50%) 1/2 (50%) (25%)
Sexual Variety 1/4 Pressure 2/2 Pressure 1/2 Sexual
(25%) (100%) (50%) Circumstances 1/12
Revenge 1/4 (25%) (8%)
Revenge (8%)

CONSEQUENCE Nothing 2/2 Nothing 2/2 Nothing 2/4 (50%) Wife Stays 1/2 Death of Lover Nothing 7/12 (58%)
(100%) (100%) Death of Lover 1/4 (50%) 1/2 (50%) Revenge 2/12 (17%)
(25%) Revenge 1/2 Threatened to Threatened to Tell
Lover Attempts to (50%) Tell Wife 1/2 Wife 2/12 (17%)
Kill Husband 1/4 Lover (50%) Bribery 2/12 (17%)
(25%) Attempts to Bribery 1/2 Death of Lover 2/12
Revenge 1/4 (25%) Kill Husband (50%) (17%)
Bribery 1/4 (25%) 1/2 (50%) Lover Attempts to
Kill Husband 2/12
(17%)
Table 6

WIFE’S WIFE’S ROLE


REACTION
Wife Found Out 5/12 Wife Stayed in the End 8/12 (67%)
(42%) Questioned Husband 6/12 (50%)
Husband Admitted 3/12 Wife Outraged and Left 3/12 (25%)
(25%) Wife Took Revenge 2/12 (17%)
Wife Never Found Out Wife Had No Knowledge 2/12 (17%)
2/12 (17%)
N/A 2/12 (17%)
Findings Cont.
 Amount of Shame shown by the husband
– Half (50%) showed no shame or regrets
– Half (50%) showed men being depressed, nervous,
and stressed
 Amount of Nudity exposed in films
– 1950s, 60s, & 70s – No Nudity Shown
– 1980s  2005 – Moderate to Extreme amt. of Nudity
– Data here shows that sexuality in Hollywood films has
been more open and socially acceptable on the
screen since the 80s.
Discussion
 The typical adulterous male in Hollywood film is a white,
37 year old heterosexual businessman, married with
children.
 Age of husband during time of affair decreased over the
decades.
 Having children does not necessarily mean your marriage
is more stable.
 “Power-imbalanced” relationships
 Businessmen are more likely to cheat on their wives than
men in other occupations.
 Today we have more easily accessible and available forms
of communicating with one another.
 The Feminist Movement
Questions