Benefits and costs
The researchers next combined the eight reasons above into type broader categories representing either the benefits or the costs associated with not cheating or cheating. The benefits category comprised of “I am satisfied with my relationship” and feel guilty, whereas the costs category comprised of all of the other reasons.
They found a difference between men and women for the benefits category, with women citing benefits of their relationship as a reason for not cheating far more than men. However, there was no difference between men and women for the costs category. Furthermore, for the benefits category, they found that as conscientiousness decreased, then men’s, but not women’s, likelihood of not cheating decreased. In other words, low conscientiousness affected men’s, but not women’s, likelihood of cheating.
Previous research generally suggests that people are less likely not to cheat if they are in a good relationship and the costs of discovery are high, and more likely to cheat if they are in a poor relationship where the cost of discovery is low. For men, cheating and mating with numerous women afford the opportunity to produce more offspring in a given time, which is not the case for women, and this may well explain gender differences in willingness to cheat.
In summary, the findings from this study suggest those less likely to cheat are women who are high in conscientiousness and low in openness. Whereas, those more likely to cheat are men who score low in conscientiousness and high in openness.
However, other factors such as relationship quality, context, and the relative chances and costs of discovery also need to be considered. Furthermore, the average age of participants in this study was around 33 and it is possible that surveying other age groups who have been in relationships for different lengths of time, may yield different results.
Therefore, while the findings provide some insight on who is less likely to cheat based on personality variables, the relative impact of other factors also needs consideration.
Apostolou, M. & Panayiotou, R. (2019) ‘The reasons that prevent people from cheating on their partners: An evolutionary account of the propensity not to cheat’ Personality and Individual Differences, 146, 34-40.
Written By Martin Graff Originally Appeared In Psychology Today
After everything is said and done, there are other factors at play too when it comes to cheating. But one thing is for sure, people who are genuinely happy in their relationship and feel that they are with the right person, don’t feel the need to cheat on their partners, or search for greener pastures.