Anger About Wandering Eyes Encourages Cheating

We all do it: we catch our significant other checking out other people, or hanging out with friends of the opposite sex, or making a remark about somebody being attractive—and we get angry. That might manifest in a number of ways, from a sideways comment to a full-on fit to threats of a breakup, but no matter how it manifests, there’s a clear message: we’re not pleased. A recent study, however, suggests that this may actually encourage people to cheat. reports:

It’s a cliché setup: A woman catches her boyfriend staring slack-jawed at another lady and smacks him on the arm. How dare he let his animal impulses show through their tenuous pact of monogamy. This familiar sitcom scenario is backward—and not just in the sense that it plays up the stereotype of the crazy-jealous girlfriend. It turns out that trying to punish a significant other when his or her eyes wander might actually backfire and encourage infidelity, according to a study published in this month’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Researchers subjected a bunch of undergrad guinea pigs to a computer game involving photos of strangers, followed by a questionnaire. When their attention to photos of attractive members of the opposite sex was “subtly limited” in the game, it “reduced relationship satisfaction and commitment and increased positive attitudes toward infidelity.” The study explains, “Being told simply not to look is probably not an effective strategy for boosting satisfaction and commitment or reducing interest in alternatives”—and it’s for the same reason that telling a kid to keep his hands off the cookie jar doesn’t reduce his interest in sweets. “The story of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit underscores a general human tendency to want what we can’t have,” says researcher Nathan DeWall.

What do you think—what’s the appropriate level of concern to have about a partner’s wandering eyes?

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One thought on “Anger About Wandering Eyes Encourages Cheating

  1. Jean Caswell

    My friend would often find some one or group that he wants to know about them. A bus load o LaCross players stopped over for a supper; all very socialbe and energetic and of course young. My male friend immediatelt left me at our table to find out where they were playing and talked for at least 1/2 hour. I excused him of his wandering curiosity and wondered how oftenn he left his date alone and completely forgot he had a date. So the next time out dining he kept flirting with the waitress and making remarks as to her beauty, and not wearing a ring. She was polite and smiled but she glanced at the female dinner date and walked away and did serve us well. This man I thought was acting like an immature male and disrespectful. He remarked “he liked to give the girls a thrill”. I returned his remark as “this is her way of making a living and probably has children at home , and yes she is attractive. He just sighs.
    He never learned: I dumped him.

  2. abigailx9570

    I smiled when i read this …..reminds me of telling my oldest when he was little don’t touch the stove its hot ! you’ll get a boo boo ….well he touched it, got burnt, cried and then came over and spanked me LOL. There will always be someone pretty, handsome, talented to look at and admire it’s part of the beauty of life. Knowing that your partner is with you should tell you that you are special too if they admire other beauty but are with you!!!!:-)

    Many Blessings



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