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18 July 2008
Men And Temptation: A Risky Mix
by George Atkinson

Temptation may be everywhere, but it's how the different sexes react to flirtation that determines the effect it will have on their relationships. In a new study, psychologists from McGill University found that men tend to look at their partners in a more negative light after meeting a single, attractive woman; while conversely, women try to strengthen their current relationships after meeting an available, attractive man. Men may not see their flirtations with an attractive woman as threatening to the relationship while women do, say the researchers in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The researchers based their findings on seven laboratory experiments using 724 heterosexual men and women to see how college-aged men and women in serious relationships react when another attractive person enters the mix. In one study, unsuspecting male participants were individually introduced to an attractive woman. Roughly half the men met a "single" woman who flirted with them. The other half met an "unavailable" woman, who simply ignored them.

Immediately after this interaction, the men filled out a questionnaire in which they were asked how they would react if their "romantic partner" had done something that irritated them, such as lying about the reason for canceling a date or revealing an embarrassing tidbit about them. Men who met the attractive "available" woman were 12 percent less likely to forgive their significant others. In contrast, 58 women were put in a similar situation. These women, who met an "available" good-looking man, were 18 percent more likely to forgive their partners' bad behavior.

"One interpretation of these studies is that men are unable to ward off temptation," said study author John E. Lydon. But he prefers to believe that men simply interpret these interactions differently than women do. Women, he noted, don't need to be "trained" to withhold any reactions when approached by attractive men. "Women have been socialized to be wary of the advances of attractive men," he explained. "These findings show that even if a man is committed to his relationship, he may still need to formulate strategies to protect his relationship by avoiding that available, attractive woman."

Related:
Guys Clueless At Glomming Sexual Interest
The Mating Dance: The Eyes Have It
Ego At Heart Of Romantic Attraction

Source: McGill University




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