Psychologists Say Some People Are Biologically Hardwired to Cheat

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The more we learn about the human brain, the more psychology and genetic mapping point to the fact that people could have a predisposition to certain behaviors.

We know this is true when it comes to addiction, but now, science is also saying that a tendency to cheat (or not) on a romantic partner could he hardwired.

Recent studies show that, when confronted with temptation, people typically react in 1 of 3 ways:

  1. They look away fast.
  2. They underrate alternative attractive options.
  3. They do both.

The studies found that when people do both, they are significantly less likely to commit infidelity and divorce years later.

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These findings boost a growing body of evidence that suggests some people are hardwired for monogamy in a way that others are not, explained co-author Jim McNulty, a psychology professor at Florida State University.

“With the advent of social media, and thus the increased availability of and access to alternative partners, understanding how people avoid the temptation posed by alternative partners may be more relevant than ever to understanding relationships.”

Independence theory is a model that psychologists use to explain why relationships form and why they sever. it states that commitment comes down to two factors: satisfaction and alternatives. There’s quite a bit of data on how to increase satisfaction, but no one has really considered how to help people successfully look away from alternatives.

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Studies have concluded that there are basic psychological processes that may minimize a person’s risk of cheating, like the ability to direct their attention away from temptation, and a tendency to devalue other options – and both of these reactions seem to be automatic.

For this research project, McNulty and his team tracked 233 newlyweds from their wedding day for a little over three years. The 133 heterosexual couples were surveyed and then underwent tests where they were shown images of highly attractive and average looking men and women. The surveys were repeated every six months for the duration of the study, and those who took longer to look away from the other options tended to be the ones who had cheated.

To be exact, participants who looked away as little as 100 milliseconds faster, or who downgraded attractiveness of the presented alternatives by at least 2 points, were 50% less likely to have sex with someone other than their partner three years later.

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They are also more likely to still be married.

The study’s authors did not ask couples whether or not they were part of consensually non-monogamous relationships ahead of time, and they also admit that people don’t always honestly self-report when it comes to infidelity. McNulty and his team still hope their research could help people come up with more practical solutions for individuals and couples struggling to control their urges.

“People are not necessarily aware of what they’re doing or why they’re doing it.

These processes are largely spontaneous and effortless, and they may be somewhat shaped by biology and/or early childhood experiences.”

This is all, of course, not to say that people don’t have free will, and the ability to fight their own nature (if it’s in their best interest to do so). But it could help give people a better understanding of where they’re starting from, and why certain things are so hard for them.

What do you think? Believe it? Skeptical? Tell us in the comments!