Why do people cheat on their significant others? 

Adam Levine and his wife, Victoria’s Secret model, Behati Prinsloo. Photo from E! News. 

This past year, many celebrities have been involved in a cheating scandal. Some of these affairs have resulted in fantastic songs, like in the cases of Miley Cyrus and Shakira. Some have resulted in silence. Several shocked the nation. Others have not surprised anyone. Why do people commit infidelity? Is there a scientific explanation behind it? Let’s explore some possible explanations. 

In 1970, scientists studied some overarching personality qualities among humans. They determined that everyone’s personality consists of the Big Five factors: “openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.” Since 1998, there has been research largely focused on finding a specific personality type that was the most likely to commit infidelity in their marriage. They concluded that among the Big Five factors, there were some traits which correlated with infidelity. Generally, people with high extroversion traits were more likely to cheat. In addition, partners of those with high neuroticism, high narcissism, or high extroversion traits were also likely to be unfaithful. In 2015, scientists did further research on why people commit infidelity. Common responses included having poor self-control, being selfish or angry, seeking attention, and feeling bored or insecure. Now, this doesn’t mean that if you are an extrovert or have poor self-control, you are likely to cheat. This is simply a trend noticed by the study.

Recently, there has been more interest in exploring the biology behind cheating, and researchers found a connection between hormone levels and cheating. It was discovered that men in relationships had testosterone levels 21% lower than men who were single. Another study showed that when men had higher levels of testosterone in a relationship, they had more interest in having sex outside of their relationships. 

This hormonal relationship has been found to manifest in voices as well. People tend to find men with deeper voices more attractive due to the perceived notion of higher testosterone. However, women who want a long term relationship were found to avoid men with deeper voices. They found there was an instinct of associating higher testosterone with a guy’s potential for cheating. 

Men are not the only ones subject to the biological effects of hormones. For women, the ovulatory cycle is a factor in infidelity. Women are more likely to cheat when they are most likely to get pregnant (aka when they are ovulating). While most women probably do not want to get pregnant at the time of initiating an affair, from an evolutionary aspect, their bodies believe that they are constantly searching for the best partner.

While it seems that there is biological reasoning for cheating, it is clear that infidelity cannot be solely based on hormones. As human beings, we have control over our own actions. No one cheats solely based on “the science.” So, take this article to remember that your actions are your own and you can make an active choice not to cheat! 

This article was edited by Anagha Aneesh, Gargi Nigam, Ashley Schefler, and Masha Kilibarda. 

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