27 July 2011
Sexual anxiety a predictor of infidelity
by George Atkinson
Men with sexual performance anxiety are more likely to cheat on their partners, conclude the Canadian authors of a new study into infidelity. The study, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, also found that men who are risk-takers or easily sexually aroused are more likely to stray. Interestingly, the researchers found that personality characteristics and interpersonal factors are more relevant predictors of infidelity than are religion, marital status, education or gender.
"Few studies on infidelity have gone beyond exploring demographics," said Robin Milhausen, a sexuality researcher at the University of Guelph. "This research shows that demographic variables may not influence decision-making as much as previously thought - that personality matters more, especially for men."
Milhausen added that the study found little difference in rates of infidelity reported by men and women (23 and 19 percent, respectively). But different things predicted the behavior for men and women. For men, significant predictors of infidelity are personality variables, including propensity for sexual excitation (becoming easily aroused) and concern about sexual performance failure.
The latter finding might seem counterintuitive, Milhausen explained, but other studies have also found this connection. "People might seek out high-risk situations to help them become aroused, or they might choose to have sex with a partner outside of their regular relationship because they feel they have an 'out' if the encounter doesn't go well - they don't have to see them again."
For women, those dissatisfied with their relationship are more than twice as likely to cheat; those who feel they are sexually incompatible with their partners are nearly three times as likely.
"All kinds of things predict infidelity," Milhausen said. "What this study says is that when you put all of those things together, for men, personality characteristics are so strong, they bounce everything else out of the model. For women, in the face of all other variables, it's still the relationship that is the most important predictor."
Scientists Examine Triggers For Sexual Dysfunction
Sex lives derailed by insecurity, avoidance
Offspring of promiscuous males are more fertile
Blinded - literally - by jealousy
Source: University of Guelph