Saturday, June 25, 2011

Predictors of getting cheated on

The MIDUS Study asked respondents if their spouse had ever been unfaithful. I wanted to identify respondent characteristics that predict this.

Logistic regression coefficients

Men (sample size = 717)

Extraversion .12
Negative emotionality -.02
Conscientiousness -.15
Agreeableness .40*
Openness to experience .01
Age -.03*
Social class .00
Religiosity -.27*
BMI .00

*statistically significant

Of the Big 5 personality traits, only being agreeable predicts being cheated on for men. Older men are less likely to have this happen, as are religious men. Body mass index has no predictive power.

Women (sample size = 850)

Extraversion -.11
Negative emotionality .01
Conscientiousness -.44*
Agreeableness -.03
Openness to experience .43*
Age .00
Social class .00
Religiosity -.14*
BMI .01

*statistically significant

For women, conscientiousness lowers the risk of being cheated on, while being open raises one's chances. The only other predictor that matters is religion: religious women are less likely to get cheated on.
 
By the way, my experience with the data is the same as that of Rodney Stark as described in What Americans Really Believe. Compared to each of the Big Five traits, religiosity is a more potent variable. It frequently predicts outcome measures more strongly. Add this to the finding that the heritability of religiosity is .5, and perhaps Stark is right that religiosity should be considered a major personality trait.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

whatever happeend to this??

I'm traveling and have not had opportunities to post. I wanted to do an amusing post on racial differences in attitudes toward which race is sexually most well-endowed, but technical problems are delaying that a bit.

bgc said...

I would guess that a major factor in getting cheated on is choice of partner: one way of looking at this would be to ask what personality types tend to make a bad choice of partner (choose an unfaithful partner).

Agreeableness and Conscientiousness are higher in women - so could be termed feminine traits.

On this basis, more-feminine women and more-masculine men make better choices of partner

Openness is positive correlated with IQ. On this basis, less-intelligent women make better choices of partner.

Intelligent, masculine women would tend to make the worst choices, on average.

Robin Hanson said...

Can you say more about how the variables are coded? That is, are they on a [0,1] range or something else? It is hard to interpret the size of the effect from your coefficients without knowing this.

Anonymous said...

I submit that the warrant actually tests the likeliness for the partner to know about his/her spouse having cheated. Not the likeliness to have been cheated on! The results are far less surprising that way too.

SFG said...

Looks like Roissy's right about the beta males, eh?

David Csonka said...

This all hinges on people's likelihood of reporting or being aware of cases of infidelity.

"Openness is positive correlated with IQ. On this basis, less-intelligent women make better choices of partner."

Perhaps more intelligent women are just better at discovering they're being cheated on.

So many confounding factors, I don't really see any conclusions that could be made from this data.

I'd also be willing to bet that religious folks are much less willing to acknowledge infidelity due to the high amount of social pressure against it.

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Paul said...

Little doubt, the dude is completely fair.
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