Science tells you what signs of derailment

Science tells you what signs of derailment

Since the marriage system and the popularization of monogamy, “derailment” has been put on the table as a formal issue, or, in terms of the history of human evolution, it is also a very recent ethical topic. From the perspective of biological reproductive benefits, mating itself can be seen as the behavior of males to maximize the spread of genes: targeting the same mate will result in a waste of sperm-this has been verified in many animals. In other words, monogamy in the animal kingdom is rare, and most of them are practitioners of the “Coolidge effect”.

Therefore, it seems that it is not enough for human beings to rely on the “moral law” in the individual’s heart to maintain their married life: is cheating really a certain kind of nature? Later, we discovered that there is a positive correlation between oxytocin levels and adult romantic attachment, that is, oxytocin helps partners maintain loyalty and stay away from the temptation of other sexes. We even invented the oxytocin nasal spray. As long as you spray it, your partner will stay by your side obediently, and you won’t mess with it…

This article is from the WeChat public account : Leviathan (ID: liweitan2014) , author: Mark Chu, the first picture is from: “The Perfect Stranger” stills

When I was a teenager, I had already figured out how to deal with my future spouse’s derailment: divorce. There are no other options. However, as I grew older, I had a family, and I learned more, and I gradually realized that this issue is far more complicated than I thought.

Of course, the research on this topic is already sufficient. What I want to do is to briefly review, and then focus on the most representative one: physical derailment.

But first, how common is derailment?

It is not easy to find specific data, because few people are willing to openly admit to cheating. Overall, research shows that this number is 20% to 25% in the United States ; that is to say, one out of four to five people will have at least one-time relationship with someone other than their spouse.

Indiana University (Indiana University) , Dr. Mark (Dr. Mark) and her colleagues said that in the United States, infidelity is the most common cause of divorce. University of Michigan (University of Michigan) , Dr. Beiqi Ge’s (Dr. Betzig) also shows that infidelity at least 160 other countries are also the leading cause of divorce. Perhaps this shows that too many people think in the lower body, and their spouse is very annoyed by it.

Dr. Atkins , a clinical psychologist at the University of Washington, and his colleagues analyzed a large database based on a national survey of nearly 4,000 people. Let us break down these research findings into different types.

Demographic factors

Male vs. female

Yes, according to this study, men are more likely to be physically cheated than women.

But what’s more interesting is that the probability of cheating varies across age groups: during the survey period, men in the 55-65 age group were most likely to report cheating (approximately 15%) . Is it because men at this age are usually bored? Or because of the “peer effect” , which means that these male respondents grew up in a specific culture that “encourages” infidelity? We don’t know, but the researchers inferred that the infidelity is due to peer effects.

The probability of women cheating is much lower (approximately 4% to 5%) , and women in the 40-45 age group are more likely to report cheating. Likewise, this is not to say that women of this age group want to cheat; it may be that the culture experienced by this particular age group is at work, and we don’t understand the real reason.

However, the study and Florida State University (Florida State University) , Dr. Fenche Mu’s (Dr. Fincham) and his colleagues have pointed out, this difference between men and women is narrowing. Contemporary women represent a vital labor force, which means they have more financial resources, independence and opportunities for derailment.

education level

Respondents with a graduate degree and a marriage history are 1.75 times more likely to be derailed (or derailed again) than those with a high school degree or less. The research did not fully explain the possible reasons, I guess it is because these people are more likely to have status and opportunities.

Religious belief

People who go to church regularly and are highly satisfied with their marriage (reporting that they are “very happy”) are less likely to cheat. However, those who go to church regularly but report that their marriage satisfaction is “quite happy” or “not too happy”, their religious behavior has nothing to do with lower infidelity rates.

According to other research results, we know that religious belief is a complicated factor. Many devout believers certainly like this 2007 study: They found that those who enshrine the Bible as the language of God are much less likely to cheat. However, on the other hand, the study of Iranian researchers and Dr. Mark in 2019 did not find such an association.

I think one reason that might explain this huge gap is that people go to church for various motives.

Some people have really internalized the values ​​of religious doctrines, while others may go to church simply because the church is a place to communicate with people and get food, but it may be difficult to understand this through research. It’s just my guess.

Marriage history

Yes, people who have divorced are almost twice as likely to cheat as those who have never been divorced.

Income/employment status

This study puts income and employment status together as an indicator of chance of derailment. Take income as an example. Among people whose annual income is greater than or equal to $30,000 (almost $45,755 now) , the more they earn, the greater the probability of derailment.

For people with an annual income of less than $30,000, there is no such correlation.

This shows that the higher the income, the higher the status and the more opportunities people have to travel or meet strangers. Similarly, the researchers did not survey people with an annual income of more than $75,000 (almost $114,386 now) ; they believe that the correlation may be stronger for people with super-high incomes.

The researchers divided the employment status into four categories: the surveyed person and spouse both have jobs, the surveyed person and spouse are not working, the surveyed person has a job but his spouse does not, the surveyed person has no job but his spouse has.

The “subject has a job but his spouse does not” is the most prone to derailment -probably because it means the biggest difference in power. The “subject and spouse have no job” combination is the most difficult to cheat. Maybe they don’t have the time, energy or opportunity.

Age at first marriage

The earlier the first marriage is, the more likely it is to derail. People who get married at the age of 16 (my goodness) have almost four times the probability of cheating than those who get married at the age of 23. This is not surprising: in general, teenagers are more likely to be impulsive, immature, and inexperienced. When I was a teenager, I was too stupid to imagine what would happen if I got married at the age of 16.


Satisfaction with the relationship

People would think that only people with unhappy marriages would go out to find others, but the researchers combed through previous studies and found that some studies did not show this correlation. However, some studies do show that low-quality marriages, such as low satisfaction and low frequency sex, are important signs of derailment. One of the purposes of this research is to find out whether satisfaction with marital relationships is related to derailment in the sample studied.

They did find this association: data analysis showed that compared with those who reported that they were “very happy” in their relationship, those who reported that they were “quite happy” were almost twice as likely to cheat, while reporting that they were “very happy” People who are not very happy have four times the probability of cheating. Pennsylvania State University (Pennsylvania State University) researchers further said that the reasons may be both low marital satisfaction is the result of infidelity.

Note: This is by no means a reason for cheating (“I cheated because I was unhappy in my marriage!”) ; first of all, this unhappy relationship may be my fault.

Sense of responsibility

In terms of relationship satisfaction, Johns Hopkins University (Johns Hopkins University) , Dr.杜利格塔斯’s (Dr. Drigotas) and colleagues, a sense of the relationship is the key to higher satisfaction, Heralds a lower probability of derailment. People with a stronger sense of responsibility have stronger attachment and willingness to continue the relationship.

In addition, people who lived together before marriage are more likely to cheat. I think “responsibility” can be explained: the logic of cohabitation is “let us try and see if it works”, which also implies a lack of responsibility.

Therefore, it seems that in order to have a happy relationship, both parties must have a sense of responsibility.

In addition to the above factors reviewed by Dr. Atkins and his colleagues, Dr. Fincham and his colleagues also summarized some other factors.


I have simply pointed out that according to research, “opposite attraction” does not work for long-term relationships. Interestingly, according to economists at the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse , Drs. Brooks and Monaco (Drs. Brooks and Monaco) , couples with common religious beliefs and higher education levels are less likely to cheat . In general, these two factors are human core values, and it is difficult for us to live with people with different core values.



Neurotic people (that is, emotionally unstable and prone to negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, and depression) are more likely to cheat. As you can see, neurotic people are not happy.

Types of attachment

Insecure attachment types are associated with a higher probability of derailment, but this study did not specify the specific types. Fortunately, psychologists at Florida State University have found that people with anxious attachment are more likely to cheat.

Attachment type is a big topic and cannot be explained in detail here, I will discuss the details in another article. Basically, individuals with anxious attachments are always on high alert for relationships, always worrying that they are not good enough and will be abandoned; they rely too much on their partners. It sounds weird and counter-intuitive, right? If you are afraid of being abandoned, why look for someone else?

Behavior problem

Drug or alcohol abuse is positively related to cheating; the more drugs you take, the easier it is to cheat.

Attitude towards sex

That’s right, those who can “separate sex from love” and those who feel that sex is not a big deal are more likely to cheat.

Original family

A person’s parents will also have an influence on it. Those whose parents cheated are twice as likely to cheat as those whose parents did not cheat. It can be understood as “the little monkey has everything to learn”, but the reason may be much more complicated.

The internet

The Internet is another new world, isn’t it? This study shows that 20%~33% of people use the Internet to satisfy sexual needs, and 65% of them will have relationships. To make matters worse, more than half of them do not take protective measures. This will lead to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, posing a huge threat to public health.

Potential applications

Okay, seeing this, some of you may feel nervous: God, my partner meets many of the above conditions, are we doomed?

Dr. Atkins advises not to panic because of the nature of this study. This study, like all other studies, is a correlation study. In other words, they only study relevance, not causality.

If we gather a group of married people in a large laboratory and divide them into two groups at will: “the group with the chance to cheat”, that is, the group with many potential cheating targets, and the “the group without the chance to cheat”, that is, there is no potential cheating. People (maybe older people?) , and then look at what will happen in 3 years, then we may be able to judge whether the factor of chance is the cause of derailment. This sounds interesting, but we can’t do that.

Correlation is not causation, so we need to be cautious when interpreting these findings.

However, these findings still provide some suggestions. First of all, because one partner has a job and one partner does not have a job, infidelity is most likely to occur. So a partner with only one partner may have to pay special attention to how to maintain a sense of fairness in power and control in the marriage, and how to work together Interact with other individuals and couples.

They also suggest that both spouses continue to work hard on the relationship and strive to achieve high standards of “very happy” and high satisfaction.

Finally, these are my interpretations. I think infidelity is a complicated issue. Sometimes it may not all be the fault of the derailed party, but the consequences are very destructive. In many cases, not just the divorce is over, the injury may be much deeper and last much longer. Generally speaking, in order to prevent heartbreak, a sense of responsibility is the key, as Dr. Duligetas’s research says. It’s a bit like choosing a career: you don’t change jobs every time you encounter a problem.

In order to be loyal to each other, a common goal is an important component . I once read somewhere, “Love is not just looking at each other, but also at the same distance together” or something similar.

On the other hand, some infidelity stems from deeper and more difficult underlying problems, such as addiction, mental health problems, or abuse. Before reconciliation, these issues must be resolved first. Perhaps such people need more sympathy and understanding.


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