A new scientific study confirms that infidelity can be predicted in couples based on how they behave towards other potential love interests.

A study by Florida State University, published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reveals a number of factors that could lead a spouse to cheat.

Researchers followed 233 newly wed married couples for up to three and a half years; during this time they documented intimate details of these relationships, including how satisfied they were with the marriage, long-term commitment, whether or not they engaged in infidelity and if they were still together, Eurekalertreports.

Researchers Jim McNulty, Andrea Meltzer, Anastasia Makhanova and Jon Maner tested two psychological processes common in everyone: Attentional Disengagement and Evaluative Devaluation.

Attentional Disengagement is the ability to direct attention away from an attractive person who can be considered a romantic interest.

Evaluative Devaluation is partners’ inclination to mentally “downgrade” the attractiveness of another person, regardless of whether or not they’re actually attractive.

Couples were tested by being shown photographs of attractive men and women, and average-looking men and women, and recording their physiological responses.

The results were very telling: participants who took their attention away from an attractive person quickly – those who looked away in even a few hundred milliseconds faster than average – were nearly state50 per cent less likely to engage in sexual encounters outside marriage.

Predictably, partners who took longer to look away from the attractive photographs were at a higher risk of cheating, and of their marriage failing.

Disengagement and Devaluation decreased the risk of infidelity, and partners who engaged in those psychological practises were more likely to have a successful marriage.

Lead author of the study, McNulty, said:

People are not necessarily aware of what they're doing or why they're doing it. These processes are largely spontaneous and effortless, and they may be somewhat shaped by biology and/or early childhood experiences.

The study also found that younger people, and those less satisfied in their relationship, were more likely to cheat. In addition, those who were satisfied with their sex lives were also more likely to cheat, on the basis that they are more positive about sex in general.

Results also found a slight discrepancy in attractiveness of men and women – less attractive women were more likely to have an affair, but men with less attractive spouses were more likely to cheat.

Finally, men who say they’ve had more short-term sexual partners before marriage were more likely to cheat, however this was not the case for women in the same position, who were actually less likely to cheat.

H/T Eurekalert

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