Carrie Bradshaw did it… twice. Allie did it in The Notebook (which we mostly forgave her for). Ross Geller kinda did it (depending on which team you’re on) in Friends. Wherever we look, whether it’s on TV or in our own lives, people be cheating, and people be getting cheated on.
While there are many studies on the characteristics of people who cheat, less is known about those who don’t cheat and who can confidently say they’ll never cheat. In a recent article on Psychology Today, Mark Travers, Ph.D. explored what sets apart the some from the many (the many being cheaters, unfortunately) based on a study done in Greece.
‘A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods were used to understand why people choose to remain faithful. They first interviewed 166 participants. Of these, 44% were married, 26% were in a relationship, 15% were single, and 15% were divorced,’ explains Travers. The participants were asked to identify and elaborate on the reasons that have prevented or would prevent them from cheating on their partners. The study found 47 unique answers that people cited. They included everything from, ‘My partner treats me well,’ to ‘I worry about what people would think if this gets out.’
All the reasons were narrowed down into eight key themes:
- I am satisfied with my relationship.
- Social stigma.
- Feeling ashamed if it gets out.
- Feeling guilty.
- Have not been provoked.
- Fear of my partner’s reaction.
- I do not want to get in trouble.
- Fearing that it will happen to me.
Once these themes were outlined, a new pool of participants was asked how much they agree with the reasons given by the previous participants. ‘They were also asked to fill out a personality test — specifically, the 10-item Big Five Inventory — as well as answer some demographic questions,’ says Travers. ‘The researchers wanted to identify the themes that were most important in guiding people’s decisions not to cheat. Interestingly, they found that I am satisfied with my relationship, Feeling guilty, and Fearing that it will happen to me were the top three themes cited as reasons why people choose not to cheat.’
Kinda unsurprisingly, the study also found that men are more likely to cheat than women, as well as those who report being more willing and open to new experiences.
So, who were less likely to cheat, then?
‘People who scored high in conscientiousness, another Big Five trait,’ Travers says, adding that if you’re looking for someone faithful, it wouldn’t hurt to find someone who’s ‘unfailingly conscientious’.
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