Updated 19 February 2018

Unattractive women more likely to cheat on their partners, new study shows

How do you know if your partner is likely to cheat on you?

How do you know if your partner is likely to cheat on you? Researchers at the University of Florida in the US think they have the answer.

In a recent study they posed this exact question, taking into account factors such as age, appearance and sex drive.

Marriage satisfaction

The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, involved 233 newly married couples. The research team monitored them for three-and-a-half years, observing all kinds of intimate details about their relationships.

Some of the observations included whether they’d considered cheating, how satisfied they are in their marriage, and whether they’re still married to their spouse after three years.

They concluded that younger people and those less satisfied with their marriage are more likely to cheat on their partner.

That’s not entirely surprising, but what did come as a surprise was that those who enjoyed an active sex life within their marriage were also more likely to cheat.

The reason? Researchers reckon it might be because these people feel more positive about sex in general and go out looking for more of it – regardless of how they feel about their relationship with their partner. It seems the more you have, the more you want.

Appearance is also a determining factor. The study found that less attractive women are more likely to have an affair, compared to their prettier counterparts. Interestingly, the men married to unattractive women were no more, nor less likely to cheat on their partners than men married to attractive women.

Pictures of attractive people

Another factor was the individual’s experience with sex. Men who indicated that they’d had lots of sex with many different partners before getting married, were more likely to stray once married. The opposite was true for the women.

Researchers didn’t only monitor the newlyweds’ behaviour, they also sought to establish whether there are other indicators of someone’s likelihood to cheat.

In one test they showed the subjects pictures of attractive people and recorded their response time (i.e. how long they looked at the pictures). It turns out those who looked at the pictures for longer than the average time – even by just a second or two – were those who were more likely to have an affair.

Jim McNulty, who led the study, said these reactions were involuntary and the subjects wouldn’t even have known they were doing it. “People aren’t necessarily aware of what they’re doing or why they’re doing it,” he explained.

“The processes involved are mostly spontaneous and effortless, and biological in nature and/or learnt in childhood.”