Are men who cheat just stupid?

SARAH BERRY
Last updated 15:47 05/07/2012
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They hold high powered positions, they are in the public eye and they play the media like it's going out of print.

Their whole world revolves around what they have built, so why would they risk it all - their career, their carefully constructed image, their family - for a surreptitious shag?

A shortage of smarts is the answer, if you go by the theory of Dr Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist from the London School of Economics and Political Science, who questions the intelligence of male cheaters in general.

In a theory published in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly back in 2010, he said that intelligence significantly increases adult men's (but not women's) value on sexual exclusivity.

He said that entering a sexually exclusive relationship is an "evolutionarily novel" development for men (but, not women).

Therefore, intelligent people are more likely to adopt these sorts of new, more "evolved" practices. So, men who cannot adapt and end up succumbing to temptation and cheating are likely to be more stupid, the Daily Mail helpfully explained.

But, this doesn't explain the high proportion of men who cheat and are powerful as well as bright.

American politician John Edwards, who made a public play of the wholesome, faithful-husband role to his sick, long-suffering wife, recently avoided prison over his affair.

There has also been the infamous Weinergate, Lewinskygate (or zippergate, tailgate or sexgate, depending on who you talk to) and the open trouser "gates" of Elliot Spitzer, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Silvio Berlusconi and Arnold Schwarzenegger to name but a few.

It's carnal groundhog day out there. And the whole world watches it on repeat. Why do they never learn?

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Some put it down to biology, testosterone or narcissism. Others say the it is because sex supplies "psychic relief ... to men struggling with conflicts about guilt and responsibility."

And psychic (sexual) relief seems to be in more ample supply when you're powerful.

"If you're famous, even if you look like a beluga whale in a suit, you're going to be far more attractive to people than you were in high school," Keith Campbell, a University of Georgia psychologist, informed National Public Radio.

And with more opportunity comes more urge to act on that opportunity. Psychologist Mark Held, a private practitioner in the Denver area who specialises in male sexuality and the problems of overachievers told Time: "The challenge becomes developing ways to control the impulses so you don't get yourself into self-defeating situations."

Frida Ghitis, a columnist for CNN, has a theory about why they don't develop impulse-control.

"I believe the common denominator, the proximate cause of the irrational behavior, is arrogance; the belief by some powerful men that they can get away with it," she wrote recently.

"That the world is still their unchallenged domain, as it was years ago, when few people knew about a president bringing women to the White House to have sex, as John F Kennedy did, or pressuring his secretary to yield to sexual advances, as was common. It is willful ignorance that the world has changed."

But, as Ghitis points out, the world has changed. Evolved even.

"That we're finding out about these men, and that their political careers are in many cases ending, is a sign that society is changing.

"That it continues to happen, to seemingly intelligent, disciplined individuals, is a sign that the process will be slow. And that, in the final analysis, if it has to do with sex, some men really are stupid."

-Sydney Morning Herald

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