Facebook Isn't The Reason People Cheat, New Study Finds, Memory Is

People have been cheating on each other since the beginning of time. While many believe social media threatens relationships, I think it just makes it easier to get caught cheating. Besides, with the huge Ashley Madison hack earlier this year, which exposed millions of cheaters around the globe, it’s easy to why people would place blame on the internet. But as a new study found, your memory is technically more of a threat to your relationship than Facebook.

Researchers at Indiana University took a sample of 371 young, unmarried, undergraduate students from an introductory psychology course and surveyed them to see the role that Facebook played in a person’s desire to cheat on his or her partner. As part of the survey, participants were asked to look through “romantically desirable profiles” from a friends list, which could “adversely affect their current relationship.”

As the study found, Facebook just acted as a memory primer for the sexual alternatives we keep in our memories. For example, if I saw a photo of the cute barista who makes my coffee every morning and gives me all the feels, that would trigger certain feelings inside of me, which would then lower my individual relationship satisfaction and commitment to my partner. Those memories of my encounter with the coffee guy would be threats to my relationship. Facebook just acts like a troll who presents a photo of a person you can look at but not touch.

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While it’s not exactly clear why memory was the biggest threat, the researchers have a couple of hypotheses. One being, the overload of available Facebook profiles lowers the general desirability of all profiles. As the study found, many people weren’t Facebook friends with their real-life crushes. Whether people avoid adding their crushes to avoid temptation or they want to keep their relationship status hidden, the researchers concluded that Facebook wasn’t going to help “decrease adulterous attitudes.”

As the authors wrote in the study, “Long before technology emerged, we were cheating, breaking up, and divorcing because we found alternative partners. With or without technology, we continue to do so, using our minds to store information about the potential partners who pose real threats to our romantic relationships.”

Why exactly do people cheat? There’s not really one good answer. But here are three reasons, according to science.

1. It’s In Their Genes

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A study published earlier this year in Evolution and Human Behavior, found a link between specific gene mutations and infidelity in women. Psychologist Brenden P. Zietsch of University of Queenland took a group of 7,378 Finnish people between 18 and 49-years-old and found a significant relationship between the vasopressin gene and infidelity in women. At the same time, however, the link did not exist for men.

2. It’s All About The Money

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Another study, published earlier this year, conducted by Christin L. Munsch of the University of Connecticut found that a couple’s income ratio was a predictor of adultery. In a study of more than 2,750 heterosexual married people between 18 and 32-years-old, the study found that men who made significantly less money than their wives were more likely to cheat.

3. Options, Options, Options

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According to a report by Live Science, men who work in professions that are dominated by women are more likely to cheat. Apparently men who are in female-dominated workplaces are obviously around a lot of women. A lot of women, mean a lot of options. A lot of options mean a lot of opportunity to cheat.

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