People who are low on agreeableness and low on conscientiousness are more likely to cheat on their partner, research finds.
Disagreeable people tend to be unfriendly, cold and not tactful — rarely taking into account other people’s feelings.
People who are not conscientious are careless, badly organised and find it hard to resist temptation.
The conclusions come from a review of 51 studies conducted around the world into the personality factors that are linked to infidelity.
People who are more extraverted are also more likely to cheat on their partner, the researchers found.
It is probably because extraverted people have a wider social circle and so more opportunities to cheat.
Also, extraverts are impulsive, sensation-seekers who can easily succumb to their desires.
In contrast, people who are agreeable and conscientious are more likely to persevere with their current relationship, the study’s authors explain:
“High agreeableness and conscientiousness may imply lower motivation for infidelity because these individuals tend to have more perseverance in relationships regardless of conflicts and are also more capable of resisting seduction.”
So, the individual who is least likely to cheat on their partner is conscientious, agreeable and introverted.
The authors explain:
“Conscientiousness refers to self-control, perseverance and sense of duty.[…]
An agreeable individual is described as being altruistic, eager to help others, and also believes that others are equally helpful.”
Dark triad and infidelity
Along with these personality factors, the ‘dark triad’ traits of narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism are also linked to infidelity.
People high on any of these traits are more likely to cheat.
“…spontaneous, irresponsible, manipulative, and antisocial.
As a result, psychopaths are usually damaging to both themselves and others because of their tendency to engage in thrill-seeking activities involving violence and delinquency.”
Machiavellians — named after the Italian diplomat famed for his political deceits — tend to be:
“….callous, pessimistic, fraudulent, exploitative and power-oriented – traits that are usually socially disadvantageous…”
“…characterized by an excessive enhancement of the self while belittling others.
It is often accompanied by vanity, egocentricity, and overconfidence.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the The Malaysian Journal of Psychology (Jia et al., 2016).