Women cheat just as much as men -- at least if they are playing on the same power level.
A new study that will appear in Psychological Science found that infidelity is associated with power, rather than with gender.
Researchers in the Netherlands surveyed 1,561 men and women from a range of different professions and compared the sexual infidelities of those who identified themselves as having similar jobs and similar amounts of power.
According to the press release, power was measured by asking participants to indicate, via computer survey, just how powerful they thought they were, combined with other variants such as "confidence, distance and the perception of risk as it relates to infidelity."
Researcher Joris Lammers, a professor at Tilburg University, said that people assume powerful men are more likely to cheat because they have risk-taking personalities, or are afforded opportunities like business trips where it's easier to stray -- but said they found little correlation between infidelity and any of these factors.
Instead, the study found that the more confidence a person has can influence how powerful they think they are, and it's that sense of power that is highly correlated with unfaithfulness.
Slate looks the study as an explanation for why politicians like Anthony Weiner and Arnold Schwarzenegger are more prone to infidelity than the rest of us. But since the study suggests that it's the perception of self power, rather than actual power, that leads people to stray, it sounds like ordinary men — and women — who just think they're extraordinary may cheat as readily as your average philandering politico.
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