Why do men cheat? While no one is exempt from the feelings of temptation, men have the reputation of being more likely to cheat. Although this propensity for infidelity may blamed on a lack of self-control, a new study says that it could also be that men simply have stronger sexual impulses.
Researchers at the Department of Psychology at Texas A&M University discovered that men have stronger sexual impulses, while women have better self-control. However, when men practiced self-control, their impulses were reduced. “It makes sense that self-control, which has relatively recent evolutionary origins compared to sexual impulses, would work similarly — and as effectively — for both men and women,” Natasha Tidwell, lead author of the study and a doctoral student at the university, told reporters.
The researchers performed two experiments. In the first one, they wanted to see how men and women reacted to real-life sexual temptations from their past. They studied 70 men and 148 women, asking them to describe a time when they were attracted to one of their exes or someone who was unavailable. They then answered survey questions about that impulse, including how they controlled it and any consequential behaviors.
“When men reported on their past sexual behavior, they reported experiencing relatively stronger impulses and acting on those impulses more than women did,” Tidwell said. In contrast, men and women both exerted the same amount of self-control.
The second experiment involved showing photos of the opposite sex to 326 men and 274 women. The participants were asked to either accept or reject the potential partners in the photos; however, the photos were accompanied with tags that said either “good for you” or “bad for you.” The participants were asked to choose their partners based solely on the tags, and in some cases, they were asked to accept undesirable partners rather than desirable ones.
They found that men were more likely to hesitate rejecting a desirable partner, and because of this, the men performed worse on the experiment.
Although men have long been considered the cheating partner, women may be catching up. A survey by the National Opinion Research Center found that they were nearly 40 percent more likely to cheat in 2010 as they were in 1990.
If you think that your partner might be cheating on you, read some helpful tips for spotting their dissatisfaction.
Source: Tidwell N, Eastwick P. Sex Differences in Succumbing to Sexual Temptations: A Function of Impulse or Control? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 2013.