MEN have naturally suspicious minds that make them better than women at spotting infidelity, a study has found.
Unfortunately it can also lead them to jump to wrong conclusions.
US scientists confidentially questioned 406 young men and women in couples about their own fidelity and whether they knew or suspected their partners had been cheating.
In total, 29% of the men and 18.5% of the women admitted they had strayed.
However, men were significantly better than women at catching out an unfaithful other half.
They detected 75% of the reported infidelities, whereas women only discovered 41%.
Men were also more likely to suspect infidelity in an innocent partner.
Study leader Dr Paul Andrews, of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, believes it makes evolutionary sense for men to have “suspicious minds” — because, unlike women, they can never be sure that a baby is theirs.
“Men have far more at stake,” he told New Scientist magazine.
“When a female partner is unfaithful, a man may himself lose the opportunity to reproduce, and find himself investing his resources in raising the offspring of another man.”
Fellow expert Dr David Buss, of the University of Texas at Austin, said the research added to evidence that men have evolved defences to detect a partner’s infidelity.
Men displayed a “fascinating cognitive bias” that led them to “err on the side of caution” by overestimating the likelihood of being betrayed by their partners, he said.
Living in an atmosphere of constant suspicion may have led women to become more careful about covering up affairs, said Dr Andrews.
A hint of this emerged from complex statistical analysis of the research data. It suggested that a further 10% of women taking part in the study may have cheated on top of the 18.5% who admitted to it. Men on the other hand appeared to have been more honest about their philandering.
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