Sophie Morris: Men have such suspicious minds

There's only one reason why the guys identifed more cheaters

Related Topics

I haven't the first clue why the results of new research into infidelity are being held up as evidence than men are better at spotting a cheating partner than women. Not at all. It simply shows us that men are more suspicious of their lovers than women are of theirs. Why? Well I guess it takes one to know one.

Ouch. Is this unfair? I'm only analysing the findings of this investigation with a slightly more critical eye than Paul Andrews, the academic who conducted the research at a US university. It turns out that nearly twice as many of the men questioned as women had been unfaithful. They modelled their answers about their partners' behaviour on what they know about their own.

More than 200 young heterosexual couples answered the confidential questionnaires about whether they suspected or knew that their partner was playing away, and 80 per cent of women guessed correctly. A high number in itself, which rather undermines all that Mars and Venus folklore and suggests that on the whole people know their partners pretty well. This is a nourishing thought, or would be were we traversing a more heart-warming topic than infidelity.

But the men, a whopping 94 per cent of them, knew exactly at which point their missus was actually "working late" and when she was taking a liberty with their trust, and possibly their best friend. The reason, though, they scored better is because they erred heavily on the side of distrust. This meant the men detected 75 per cent of cheating women, while the women only caught out 41 per cent of their wandering men. It doesn't take a sleuth to work out that the men also suspected infidelity where there was none.

In fact, the only reason the guys identified more cheaters is because they suspected more in the first place. If you don't trust anyone, then when you catch your partner in flagrante you should not be surprised, but gleefully vindicated in your paranoid distrust.

So we have learnt that men exist in a suspicious bubble, constantly asking which "friend" you saw and wondering whose texts are making you giggle. It can't be very cosy with your neck always craned to see if she is dialling some other, presumably hotter property. I'm not suggesting you drop your guard entirely and surrender yourself to a woman's guile – doe-eyed puppies do tend to get kicked about a bit – just quit skulking about like Columbo.

Or we could take the approach of another US academic, one David Buss, who has gleaned from these results not that men are fearful paranoiacs. No, he has discovered a, "fascinating cognitive bias that leads men to err on the side of caution by overestimating a partner's infidelity". But, you see, or rather Buss does: men have more reason to be hung up on infidelity, given they have much more to lose. Oh yes – they face the possible ignominy of spending a lifetime bringing up another man's child, and forfeit their own chances of producing a son and heir.

And if that's not enough to have you reaching for the Kleenex and vowing never, ever to sleep with anyone else until you've had his three children and he's left you for someone else, get this: Andrews, Buss et al have decided that women probably do cheat as much as men after all, but they lied to the researchers to cover their tracks.

This is probably the right moment to point out that this is contemporary research, and should not be confused with the Salem witch trials of the 17th century.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: AV Installation Engineer

£27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to business growth, this is...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Care Support Workers

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this care company base...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£21000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Refugees try to cross the border from Greece into Macedonia, near Gevgelija, on Wednesday. The town sits on the ‘Balkan corridor’ used by refugees, mostly from Syria, to travel from Turkey to Hungary, the gateway to the EU  

The UK response to the plight of Syrian refugees is a national embarrassment

Kevin Watkins
The provincial capital of Idlib, Syria, which fell to al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra last week  

'I was sure I’d be raped or killed. I was terrified': My life as a gay Syrian refugee who had to flee Isis

Subhi Nahas
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent