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Florida State University Researchers Find Predictors for Infidelity in New Study

Florida State University Researchers Find Predictors for Infidelity in New Study
(Wodicka/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

A new scientific study conducted by Florida State University found that infidelity is predictable based on behavior and interactions of someone towards a potential love interest outside of a relationship.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, followed 233 newly wed couples for a period of three and a half years.

According to Eureka Alert, details of the relationships were based on documents including "marital satisfaction, long-term commitment, whether they had engaged in infidelity and if they were still together."

The scientists tested "two psychological processes" everyone exhibits at different variations.

"Attentional Disengagement" is the ability for someone to look in the other direction if they spot a potential person they might cheat with. "Evaluative Devaluation" of potential romantic partners is the ability to downplay someone's attractiveness.

These two indicators were used in a process that was subjective. The scientists showed the individuals of newly married couples photographs of people, who were average-looking and very attractive, to study their reactions.

Researchers discovered that participants who quickly disengaged their attention from an attractive person were less likely to engage in infidelity. The time of that response was notable: Individuals who looked away in as little as a few hundred milliseconds faster than average were nearly 50 percent less likely to have sex outside marriage.

Partners who took too long to avert their eyes from a romantic option indicated that their marriage could eventually end up on the rocks.


Those who were able to downplay a potential romantic option were more likely to maintain their marriage and avoid cheating on their spouses.

Jim McNulty, one of the lead researchers in the study, believes in the highly responsive indicators. He claims they reveal a lot about an individual's faithfulness, or lack thereof.

People are not necessarily aware of what they're doing or why they're doing it. These processes are largely spontaneous and effortless, and they may be somewhat shaped by biology and/or early childhood experiences.

Some of the prominent indicators of infidelity were based on age, and marital and sexual satisfaction. Younger people were prone to cheating as well as those who were not satisfied in their relationships.

While a healthy sex life could keep the marriage strong, the research revealed it had the potential to end one as well.

Surprisingly, people satisfied with sex in their relationship were more likely to engage in infidelity, perhaps suggesting they felt more positive about sex in general and would seek it out regardless of how they felt about their main relationship.

The study was conducted by FSU psychology researchers Jim McNulty, Andrea Meltzer, Anastasia Makhanova and Jon Maner, and they were the first to "find evidence of psychological responses that help a person avoid infidelity."

H/T - EurekaAlert, Twitter