is cheating contagious the impact of exposure to infidelity on cheating behavior

We often hear about contagious behaviors like yawning or catching a cold, but can infidelity also spread like a contagious trait? A recent study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior delves into this intriguing question, exploring whether being exposed to infidelity could make individuals in monogamous heterosexual relationships more likely to cheat themselves.


The researchers investigated how learning about others' unfaithfulness might influence one's own fidelity in a committed relationship. Their hypothesis suggested that as infidelity becomes more prevalent in an individual's life, their desire for their current partner might decrease, while their desire for others could increase.

Three Studies Shed Light on the Subject

The researchers conducted three separate studies focusing on people in heterosexual monogamous relationships to test their predictions.

Study 1: Watching a Video on Infidelity

The initial study involved undergraduate students from Israel in committed relationships lasting at least four months. Some participants watched a video stating that infidelity occurred in 86% of relationships, while others saw a video suggesting it only happened in 11% of relationships. After watching, the participants were asked to write about a sexual fantasy involving someone other than their current partner. Surprisingly, the video estimates did not significantly affect the levels of desire for their partner.

Study 2: Reading a Confession of Cheating

In the second study, undergraduate students in committed heterosexual relationships lasting at least 12 months participated. Some of them read what appeared to be a confession detailing romantic cheating, while others read about academic cheating. Afterward, participants viewed photos of 16 individuals and had to quickly decide whether they could be potential romantic partners. Interestingly, those who read the confessions about romantic infidelity were more likely to express interest in more potential partners than those who read about academic cheating.

Study 3: Receiving Information About Cheating

The final study involved undergraduate students in committed heterosexual relationships lasting at least four months. Participants were given survey results indicating that romantic infidelity was present in 85% of relationships or that academic cheating prevalence was 85%. They then interacted with a research assistant over instant messaging, and afterward, their attraction to the assistant and commitment to their current partner were assessed.

The results of the third study revealed that those who were informed about the prevalence of romantic cheating felt less committed to their current relationships compared to those who were informed about academic cheating. Participants exposed to the romantic infidelity survey also expressed a greater desire to chat with the research assistant again.

Men, regardless of the conditions, demonstrated lower overall commitment to their relationships than women.

The Bottom Line

The researchers suggest that exposure to adultery norms may reduce guilt and resistance toward infidelity, thereby weakening the motivation to protect the current relationship and making long-term goals less prominent. The study offers intriguing insights into the potential impact of exposure to infidelity on subsequent cheating behavior in monogamous relationships. As we learn more about how infidelity can propagate it becomes clear that knowing how faithful your partner is important for keeping a strong, trusted relationship.

Uncertainty and doubt can cause needless stress and put your relationship at risk. So that's where iFindCheaters comes in. Our service is safe and confidential, so you can find out any secrets your partner might be keeping without even touching their phone. This gives you all the information you need to make choices about your relationship that are based on facts. With iFindCheaters, you can be sure to clear up any questions, build trust, and set the stage for a happier, safer future together. Don't let the worry that your partner will cheat keep you from being happy. Take charge of your relationship, try iFindCheaters for free today.

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