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Why smarter people fall more into infidelity

Why smarter people fall more into infidelity

January 25, 2022

Intelligence is one of the most interesting psychological traits that exist. Knowing our cognitive abilities allows us to know the degree to which we are skilled at adapting to new challenges, changing environments and, in general, to situations that require a certain degree of improvisation.

But another fascinating aspect of intelligence is that statistically it also often goes hand in hand with many other personal, physical, social and psychological characteristics. For example, people with higher scores on IQ tests tend to live longer, earn more money and have a better physical appearance.

In the world of love and the search for a partner, this also has curious implications. For example, it has been seen that smarter people tend to be more infidels than the average, a pattern that is especially accentuated in the case of women. Why does this happen?


  • Related article: "Infidelity: the second most important problem in relationships"

The relationship between intelligence and infidelity

A few years ago, psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa showed that, according to data from the General Social Surveys, people who answer "yes" to the question "Have you ever had an affair outside the couple?" Tend to get significantly higher scores in intelligence tests, including controlling variables such as social class, ethnicity, educational level and, of course, age.

This difference was somewhat greater in the case of women. In their case, those who had committed an infidelity surpassed in 3 IQ points those who had fulfilled their commitment, while in the case of men the difference was two points. Why does this happen?


Kanazawa acknowledges that there is no data that clearly indicates why there is such a direct relationship between intelligence and propensity to infidelity, but it does outline some hypotheses that could point in the right direction.

  • Related article: "Fidelity: an old-fashioned word?"

Attractiveness, intelligence and genres

In the first place, the researcher highlights a fact that over the years has been amply proved: in general, the smartest people tend to be taller and more attractive than the rest.

This means, among other things, that it costs them less to find someone interested in having relationships with them. The stereotype of unattractive people who are very intelligent "to compensate" is not confirmed by the data that reality gives us, at least for the moment.

On the other hand, as an evolutionary psychologist, Kanazawa is convinced that, as far as sexual behavior is concerned, women have the most power, since they are the ones who choose how and where encounters take place.


From here, Kanazawa draws an interesting reflection. Although it seems contradictory, smarter men tend to value monogamy and fidelity more, something that does not happen with representatives with higher IQ of the opposite sex. However, as we have seen, both men and women with high intelligence scores tend to break that commitment of fidelity. This could be because women with higher IQ have more opportunities to be attractive and to break sexual exclusivity.

As for the latter, the fact that they value sexual exclusivity more might explain why even the smartest (and potentially attractive) tend to have fewer adventures. On the other hand, Kanazawa emphasizes that since men have less room for choice in sexual behavior, they can not be so consistent with their ideals and values, under the assumption that in order to strictly follow one's values ​​one needs to have a control in that area of ​​life; in this case, the sexual one.

  • You may be interested: "Are men or women more unfaithful?"

A question of temptations

Thus, the hypotheses towards which Kanazawa points have to do with the degree to which the smartest people have to say "no" to a greater number of occasions to commit infidelities. Women with higher IQ do not value sexual exclusivity more than the average, and therefore are somewhat more exposed to temptation, while in men that desirability that is associated with intelligence is partially cushioned by their positive assessment of monogamy in an "ideal" sense.

Of course, there are still many unknowns to be solved. For example, if this pattern of behavior, or relationship between IQ and sexual activity, is met in all cultures (probably not).It is also necessary to have more information about how sexual attractiveness and propensity to infidelity are related: at the moment only data related to the second and the level of IQ have been crossed.

It is necessary to remember, finally, that we are only talking about numbers, statistical patterns. It is clear that each case is unique and a person is not predestined to be unfaithful to be gifted, far from it. However, in general, the smartest, possibly, have had more opportunities to say "no" to offers that seemed irresistible.


– This is how you stop your partner from cheating | Esther Perel | SVT/NRK/Skavlan (January 2022).


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