Sophie Morris: Men have such suspicious minds

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

Share
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.

s.morris@independent.co.uk

React Now

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

Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java,Artificial Intelligence)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Front-Of...

C++ Quant Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

Java/Calypso Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...

SQL Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ashya King in hospital with his mother  

Ashya King: Breakdown in relations led to this PR fiasco

Paul Peachey
Jim Murphy, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development holds a carton of eggs during a speech to Better Together supporters  

When the course of history is on the line, democracy is a raw, vicious and filthy business

Matthew Norman
Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York