When the power imbalances between men and women are eradicated, say psychologists, women philander as often as men do. That's because sexual infidelity is related to power, not gender.
A group of researchers in the Netherlands surveyed a cross-section of 1561 professionals, comparing the sexual infidelities of men and women who identified themselves as having similar careers and similar amounts of power. What the scientists found was that powerful people cheat on their spouses, regardless of gender.
Psychologist Joris Lammers, who worked on the study, explained:
There has been a lot of research in the past that indicates that gender is the strongest predictor of infidelity, but none of these studies have been done on powerful women. People often assume that powerful men may be more likely to cheat because they have risk-taking personalities or because of distance, such as frequent business trips that many powerful people go on. We found little correlation between either of the two.
In fact, Lammers and his colleagues say that gender made no difference when it came to which people cheated on their spouses.
So women and men who think of themselves as powerful tend to sleep around. But why? The researchers believe that powerful people are more confident — and confidence gets you laid. (Admittedly the researchers don't put it quite like that, but that's the gist.)
In a release about Lammers' work, the Association of Psychological Science explains how gender won't affect sexual fidelity in a modern society:
Lammers believes that as society modernizes many gender differences will disappear. He notes that evolution is not a fixed process and neither are gender labels.
"As a social psychologist, I believe that the situation is everything and that the situation or instance is often stronger than the individual," said Lammers. "As more and more women are in greater positions of power and are considered equal to men, then familiar assumptions about their behavior may also change. This may lead to increased negative behaviors among women that in the past have been more common among men."
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