The Science Behind Why People Cheat

Cheating happens... a lot. But why people cheat is a tough topic. Between studies showing how many people cheat or want to, to the Ashley Madison scandal, there have been a lot of reminders recently of just how prevalent it is. We know that it happens. We know that it feels like crap. But we don't really know why people do it. I mean, there's the obvious, simplistic reasoning that sex feels incredible and if we want that and aren't getting it from our partner we'll search elsewhere.

Do we really buy that though? I mean, it's reductive and also often sexist take on it. There's the cultural myth of men straying because of high sex drives, which makes men look like walking out-of-control erections and makes it sound like women aren't that interested in, or are withholding, sex. It's not fair to anyone.

Men cheat, women cheat too, and although everyone's circumstances are unique, the folks at asapSCIENCE to a look at the science and biology at play in infidelity. The video shows that some of us may be predisposed to cheating and why. Although personally I can't ever imagine being like "It's OK you cheated honey, I know you have a longer allele," it's really interesting stuff.

Take a look at the video to see what's going on internally that makes us stray away from monogamy:

Here are the highlights:

1. The Facts

Only three percent of mammals are monogamous, but that includes us. The video explains that "from an evolutionary perspective it creates an advantage", such as one parent being able to watch the babies while the other gathers food.

2. It's All About The Dopamine, Baby

We know that dopamine is out little feel good button, but some people have a "long allele variant" of the dopamine receptor while some people have a "short allele variant". The weird thing is 50 percent of those with the long allele variant have cheated, while around 20 percent of people with the short one had. Weird, right? People with the long allele variant where also more likely to be risky or show addictive behavior.

3. Vasopressin Matters— Ever Heard Of It?

The video says that there's also a link to vasopressin, which is similar to oxytocin in that it affects trust and social bonding. A 2014 study of 7000 twins suggested that lower vasopressin levels have an influence on cheating, according to the video.

4. Let's Not Forget Cash

There's also an issue with money. Men who make way more than their wives are more likely to cheat, but also men who are financially dependent on women are more likely to cheat. So basically your fidelity is safest if you both make around the same amount.

5. And All The Rest Of It

As if hormones and money weren't complicated enough, there's more. Rightly, the video points out that there are always person circumstance such as emotional baggage or substance abuse that play a factor, so we can't simplify it all down to DNA. They also note that there has been very little research done on LGBT couples and their infidelity patterns and causes, so there's still a lot more work to be done if we want a holistic view of why people cheat and what to do about it.

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Images:; asapSCIENCE/Youtube