“We have long known that men have a genetic, evolutionary impulse to cheat, because that increases the odds of having more of their offspring in the world.
But now there is intriguing new research showing that some women, too, are biologically inclined to wander, although not for clear evolutionary benefits. Women who carry certain variants of the vasopressin receptor gene are much more likely to engage in “extra pair bonding,” the scientific euphemism for sexual infidelity.”
Despite the claims that “all men cheat,” in fact, a vast minority of men do – and not a significant amount more than women.
I’ll spare you the details of the study, which can be read here, but the article points out:
“Correlation is not the same as causation; there are undoubtedly many unmeasured factors that contribute to infidelity. And rarely does a simple genetic variant determine behavior.
Still, there is a good reason to take these findings seriously: Data in animals confirm that these two hormones are significant players when it comes to sexual behavior.”
As we’ve reported extensively on this site, “the rate of infidelity has been pretty constant at around 21 percent for married men, and between 10 to 15 percent for married women, according to the General Social Survey at the University of Chicago’s independent research organization, NORC.” Which is to say that, despite the claims that “all men cheat,” in fact, a vast minority of men do – and not a significant amount more than women.
While we are not slaves to our genes, those with a predisposition may experience more temptation than the rest of us.
The article concludes by saying that while we are not slaves to our genes, those with a predisposition may experience more temptation than the rest of us:
“So do we get a moral pass if we happen to carry one of these “infidelity” genes? Hardly. We don’t choose our genes and can’t control them (yet), but we can usually decide what we do with the emotions and impulses they help create. But it is important to acknowledge that we live our lives on a very uneven genetic playing field….For some, there is little innate temptation to cheat; for others, sexual monogamy is an uphill battle against their own biology.”
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