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4 years ago

Cheating Is in Our Genes: What Science Says about Monogamy

Big Think
Big Think
Even though adultery is punishable by death in some societies, it still occurs regularly. This tells Dr. Helen Fisher there is probably a genetic predisposition toward cheating on your partner. Fisher's latest book is "Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray" (http://goo.gl/aRST8n).

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Transcript - Everywhere you look in the world people are adulterers, even where you can get your head chopped off for it or stoned. That means that it probably has some biological predisposition. There’s all kinds of cultural reasons that people are adulterers. If you ask a person why they’re adulterers they may say, "Well I get lonely when my partner is out of town; I want to solve a sex problem; I’d like to have more sex; I’d like to get caught and patch up my marriage; I’d like to get caught and end my marriage; I’d like to supplement my marriage." But scientists are beginning to find out some biological predispositions. A predisposition doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily going to be adulterous. I mean, you can have a predisposition to alcohol and give up drinking.

And there’s some things about the brain that seem to predispose some people to adultery. One of them is a set of genes or a gene, we’re not quite sure which, in the vasopressin system. And there was a wonderful study out of Sweden. They studied a gene in the vasopressin among 552 men. Some men had no copies of the gene, some had one copy of the gene and some had two copies of the gene. And the more copies of this gene you had, the less stable your primary relationship was. They were not studying adultery but they were studying the stability of a partnership which can certainly lead to adultery that’s unstable. There’s also some genes in the immune system that seem to play a role in adultery. We tend to be drawn to people who have a different set of genes in this part of the immune system and, in fact, when the data show that when you are with a partner who is very similar to you in this part of the immune system women particularly are more likely to be adulterers and more likely to be adulterers when they’re ovulating, when they’re more likely to get pregnant. Read Full Transcript Here: http://goo.gl/UscPO6.

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