PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
In addition to helping clarify the extramarital sex practices of both men and older women, the research here is viewed as adding several other important pieces to the total picture of monogamous and non-monogamous behavior today.
First, the population investigated is a sexually liberal one, the readers of Forum magazine. In determining their views on monogamy, what is being examined is the sexual vanguard which has always led the way for the rest of the population.
Athanasiou’s 1970 work sampled a similar population, although the results were affected by the presence of more conservative elements. The group has not been approached since, however, and the lapse of almost a decade indicates that it is time to see what changes have been wrought on them in the interim. Insight into the behavior of the liberal group now might provide a preview of trends to come in the more general population.
Secondly, unlike other studies, the questioning was not limited to the monogamous behavior of legally married couples. Rather, respondents were asked to describe their behavior in their present relationship, whether it be homosexual, living together, or some other less permanent arrangement.
To limit the observations to the behavior and attitudes of only the traditionally married would be to distort them in the direction of more sexually conservative groups.
It should be emphasized that the study is not seen, therefore, as research on the state of marriage today, but rather on the state of monogamy in couple relationships. The newness of this concept vis-a-vis earlier research, which has always limited itself to marriage per se, is that the abbreviation EMS will not stand for extramarital sex, as it is commonly used, but for extra-monogamous sex.
PROBLEMS AND LIMITATIONS
The past and present extra-monogamous sexual attitudes and behavior of Forum readers were researched via a questionnaire inserted in the May, 1977 issue. The survey was to be voluntarily completed and returned to the Forum offices. This methodology contains assumptions and limitations which affect the results.
First, in considering the validity of the information gathered, it has been assumed that the questionnaire was uniformly understood by the respondents, and that each participant responded only once. In addition, there are pre-suppositions of either accuracy in the subjects' replies, or that conscious or unconscious distortions of the data would be equally balanced between denial/repression and embellishment/grandiosity.
Secondly, caution needs to be exercised in generalizing the volunteer respondents' behaviors and attitudes to the entire Forum readership, as the sample is limited to a) readers of the one issue and b) those who responded within a four-month period. While in Chapter 6, differences in the demographics of both participants and the broader Forum readership are discussed, there remains the question of volunteer bias in the area of sexual beliefs and practices.
Karl Bauman's (1973) study, done in 1968, of the responses of volunteers versus randomly selected college students to a sexual behavior questionnaire indicated that while the demographics of the two groups did vary, the attitudes and behaviors did not. Bauman's results suggest that while automatic assumption of volunteer bias in all studies is not always justifiable, without a similarly structured control group, generalization in this study cannot be assumed.
For the purpose of this study, the following terms are defined:
The key difference between extramarital, comarital and consensual sex is that in the latter two forms the spouse knows and assents to the extramarital sexual activity.
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