Plenty of men are biologically inclined not to cheat. Or so it seems, according to some new studies that I mentioned yesterday, produced by scientists who are part of the, er, evolving trend of "relationship maintenance" research within the field of evolutionary psychology.
One of the brain mechanisms that helps both male and female humans to stay faithful is a natural instinct to look away from attractive people, if you're in a relationship. For a recent Florida State University experiment, researchers quickly showed subjects words including "lust" and "kiss." Then, participants were asked to look at a series of other images which included photos of attractive members of the opposite sex. Single folks took their time enjoying these pics, but peeps in committed relationships looked away more quickly from the attractive faces.
But wait! There's a catch — one illuminated by a follow-up study conducted by Florida State and some colleagues from the University of Kentucky. "This time, the researchers subtly made it difficult to pay attention to the attractive faces," as John Tierney, writing for The New York Times, explains. "Both men and women responded by trying harder to look at the forbidden fruit. Afterward, they expressed less satisfaction with their partners and more interest in infidelity."
Tierney quotes lead researcher Jon Maner as saying: "We shouldn't want our partner to be looking at lots of other people, because that's bad for the relationship. At the same time, preventing them from looking doesn't help either, and can backfire."
So, stay cool, baby. I know it's not fun when you catch your dude checking out another lady, but it seems like the best approach is to give him the freedom to do the right thing — and not ogle every pretty woman who walks on by.