Does your valentine have a roving eye? Watch out

February 14, 2018

(HealthDay)—Just in time for Valentine's Day, new research suggests one behavior can predict how strong a couple's bond might be.

The study of newlywed couples found that if either partner spent too much time looking at attractive members of the opposite sex, their marriage was prone to trouble down the road.

A research team from Florida State University tracked marital outcomes for 233 couples for up to 3.5 years.

First, though, they presented husbands and wives with a little test. Each newlywed was shown photos of both highly attractive or only middling-attractive men and .

Tracked over time, the study found that men and women who lingered on the photos for a longer time were more likely to be unfaithful than those who spent less time doing so.

Even a small time difference spent looking was significant. People who looked away from a photo of an attractive member of the opposite sex in as little as a few hundred milliseconds faster than average were nearly 50 percent less likely to be unfaithful to their spouse.

"People are not necessarily aware of what they're doing or why they're doing it," study author Jim McNulty said in a university news release. "These processes are largely spontaneous and effortless, and they may be somewhat shaped by biology and/or early childhood experiences."

The study participants were also asked to evaluate just how attractive the people depicted in the photos were. People who tended to "downgrade" the allure of those they saw in the photos were also less likely to cheat in a marriage, compared to those who described the people as very attractive.

Other strong predictors of infidelity included age, satisfaction with marriage, sexual satisfaction, attractiveness and history of short-term relationships.

Younger people and (not surprisingly) those less satisfied with their marriage were more likely to be unfaithful, as were men who had had more short-term sexual partners before they got hitched.

But there was perhaps one surprise: People who were satisfied with sex in their marriage were actually more likely to be unfaithful, McNulty's team said.

The researchers theorize that these people may feel more "positive" about sex in general so they'll seek it out elsewhere—even if they feel satisfied within their .

Attractiveness mattered, too. Less were more likely to have an affair compared to their more attractive female peers, the study found. And men with less attractive wives were more apt to stray versus guys married to more beautiful women.

The study was published Feb. 12 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The researchers note that the divorce rate in the United States is 40 to 50 percent, with social media now making it easier than ever to connect with others. That means new ways may be needed to help people maintain long-term relationships.

"Understanding how avoid the temptation posed by alternative partners may be more relevant than ever to understanding relationships," McNulty said.

Explore further: Predictors for infidelity and divorce highlighted in new research

More information: The American Psychological Association offers relationship advice.

Related Stories

Predictors for infidelity and divorce highlighted in new research

February 12, 2018
As Valentine's Day approaches, it's reassuring to know many of us are equipped with the basic psychological instincts to have a successful intimate relationship that lasts.

Contraception may change how happy women are with their husbands

December 3, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Choosing a partner while on the pill may affect a woman's marital satisfaction, according to a new study from Florida State University and Southern Methodist University.

Sleep quality affects marital mindset

August 8, 2016
A new study by two Florida State University researchers found that when husbands and wives get more sleep than on an average night, they are more satisfied with their marriages, at least the following day.

Recommended for you

How we explain the behavior of others depends on our beliefs about their 'true selves'

August 14, 2018
Why did they do that? It's a question we ask every day in attempting to understand the behavior of others and make meaning of the world around us. How we answer the question, however, varies depending on our moral attitudes ...

The science behind rooting for the home team

August 14, 2018
Young children often observe society dividing its members—by ethnicity, religion, gender, or even favorite sports team. But a review by a Yale psychologist published August 14 in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences ...

Study identifies distinct origin of ADHD in children with history of brain injury

August 14, 2018
According to a study in Biological Psychiatry, physical brain injury in children contributes to the development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), distinct from genetic risk for the disorder.

Online solution for OCD treatment

August 14, 2018
Almost 1 in 30 Australians experience Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) at some stage in their life.

Angry people might not be as smart as they think they are

August 13, 2018
People who are quick to lose their temper are more likely to overestimate their own intelligence, a new study from The University of Western Australia and the University of Warsaw in Poland has found.

Rude to your coworker? Think of the children

August 12, 2018
When people are rude to their coworkers or treat them badly, they probably don't realize the unintended victims in that encounter could be the coworkers' children. Women who experience incivility in the workplace are more ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.