Men and women who are economically dependent on their spouses are more likely to cheat, a new study has revealed.
Researchers have found that men who are solely financially dependent are more like to cheat than women, at 15 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.
Men who are rely on their wives may cheat because they are undergoing a “masculinity threat” by not being the primary breadwinner as is culturally expected, said study author Christin L. Munsch, a UConn assistant professor of sociology.
Cheating therefore may be a way for men to engage in behaviour culturally associated with masculinity, she explained, adding that this is particularly the case for young men for whom masculinity is linked to “sexual virility and conquest”.
“Simultaneously, infidelity allows threatened men to distance themselves from, and perhaps punish, their higher-earning spouses,” she added.
To make the findings for the study, which was published American Sociological Association, Professor Munsch used data on heterosexual couples collected between from 2001 and 2011in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth which involved more than 2,750 married people who range in age from 18 to 32 years old.
Previous studies have shown that women who are the primary breadwinners are “acutely aware” of how their earning power deviates from cultural norms, and women therefore suffer from increased anxiety and insomnia.
In contrast, the study also found that women who earned a larger percentage of the combined marital income were less likely to cheat.
Women with greater earning power also often minimised their achievements, deferred to their spouses, and increased their housework, said Professor Munsch.
“This emotional and physical work is designed to decrease interpersonal conflict and shore up their husband’s masculinity,” Professor Munsch said.
And as the money men earn relative to their spouses increases, their odds of committing adultery decrease until their total contribution to the pooled income reaches 70 percent.
However, when a man’s income makes up more than 70 per cent of the total, they become more likely to stray.
“These men are aware that their wives are truly dependent and may think that, as a result, their wives will not leave them even if they cheat,” Professor Munsch said.
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