People who are low on conscientiousness are more likely to cheat on their partner, research finds.
People who are not conscientious are careless, badly organised and find it hard to resist temptation.
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.
The conclusions come from a survey of 208 people, who were asked about their relationships and whether they had cheated.
Up to 50% of people admit cheating on their partner, the authors write:
“Early studies reported that by the age of 40, 50% of all married men and more than 25% of all married women have engaged in extramarital sexual behavior.
Three decades later, an estimated 50% of men continued to engage in sexual and/or emotional extramarital relations while 40% of women engaged in similar relationships.”
The results of the study revealed that cheaters tend to be low in conscientiousness, extraverted and open to experience.
Extraverts tend to seek out stimulation, the authors write:
“Extroverts may be inclined to cheat to obtain stimulation and prevent boredom.
Extroversion may also facilitate less investment in the relationship when those with this trait seek out others for stimulation, thereby decreasing commitment and resulting in cheating behaviours.”
The third personality trait associated with infidelity is openness to experience.
Openness to experience is linked to intellect and creativity.
The authors explain:
“…cheaters may perceive themselves as having stronger intellect and stronger creativity compared to that of their partners, leading them to seek out partners that may be a better, that is, similar, match.”
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 journal Current Psychology (Orzeck & Lung, 2005).