Internet infidelity: A modified Delphi study

Timothy S Nelson, Purdue University


The Delphi methodology was used to explore Internet infidelity. 78 Clinical Members of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy were asked to share cases of Internet infidelity from their practice. An inductive analysis was conducted on these responses to derive themes across the reported cases of Internet infidelity. Three representative vignettes were then created. The goal in the next phases of the study was to generate a list of critical issues, interventions and gender differences for each of the three vignettes from 20 experts in the fields of extramarital affairs and/or sex addiction. In the seventh and final phase of the study, these same expert panelists were asked to rank items generated from the previous phase on a seven-point Likert scale. They were also asked to share any qualitative feedback they had for each of their responses. Results indicated that expert panelists believed that Internet infidelity cases are not different from other cases of marital infidelity. Experts also agreed that establishing trust, attending to the feelings of the noninvolved spouse, and using the infidelity as an opportunity to strengthen the marriage, were important areas for intervention. Agreement and consensus by the panelists on each of the other critical issues, interventions and gender differences was largely the exception rather than rule. Explanations were offered and defended to explain this phenomenon. Directions for future research and implications for training and practice of MFTs are discussed as well.




Sprenkle, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

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