Science of Love, Sex, and Babies

the clued-in cuckold

Posted in news by jenapincott on November 11, 2008

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In the book I write about the overperception bias — that is, the tendency of the average guy to overestimate a woman’s sexual interest, thinking she wants him when in fact she has no interest whatsoever. From an evolutionary perspective, it’s better for a man to overperceive a woman’s interest and get rejected than to underperceive it and miss out on an opportunity to spread his genes.
According to a recent study led by Paul Andrews at Virginia Commonwealth University, men are also more likely than women to perceive — and also overperceive — infidelity in a relationship. When 200 couples filled out confidential questionnaires that asked whether they’d ever had an affair, men detected 75 percent of the reported infidelities and women detected only 41 percent (29 percent of men admitted to cheating, compared with 18.5 percent of women). Not only were men more likely than women to tell if a partner cheated, they were also more likely to accuse a partner of being perfidious even when she was faithful. (Then again, who knows? Maybe women are less likely to report infidelity, even confidentially.)
In the end it all comes down to that old evolutionary bias: Men have evolved to be on the lookout for infidelity as a way of ensuring paternity. On an unconscious level, hthey’re safeguarding their genes. No matter how many people a woman sleeps with, she knows the baby is hers. A guy doesn’t have that certainty, so he compensates with suspicion — which is sometimes justified.

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