Women just as likely to be unfaithful as men

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A new study by a researcher at the University of Montreal has looked at why people in relationships are unfaithful.

The research into why people cheat says the probability of cheating during the course of a relationship is very high and varies between 40 and 76%.

Researcher Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier, from the University's Department of Psychology says the numbers indicate that even when people marry with the best of intentions, things don't always turn out the way they were planned.

Ms Beaulieu-Pelletier was intrigued as to why people allow themselves to be unfaithful in ways that can be very damaging to themselves and to their relationship and whether also the type of commitment a person has with his or her loved ones is correlated to the desire of having extra-marital affairs.

Beaulieu-Pelletier suggests the emotional attachment partners have with others is modeled on the type of parenting received during childhood.

Psychologists suspect that people with avoidant attachment styles are individuals uncomfortable with intimacy and are therefore more likely to multiply sexual encounters and cheat.

However this theory has never been proven scientifically and in order to do so, Beaulieu-Pelletier conducted a series of four studies.

The first study was conducted on 145 students with an average age of 23 - 68% had thought about cheating and 41% had actually cheated and apart from the sexual satisfaction derived, the results indicated a strong correlation between infidelity and people with an avoidant attachment style.

The second study involving 270 adults with an average age of 27 found about 54% had thought about cheating and 39% had actually cheated, but the correlation was again the same - people with an avoidant attachment style are more likely to cheat.

Both these studies were followed up by two other studies that asked about the motives for infidelity and the need to distance themselves from commitment and their partner was the number one reason cited.

Beaulieu-Pelletier suggests that infidelity could be a regulatory emotional strategy used by people with an avoidant attachment style and the act of cheating helps them avoid commitment phobia, distances them from their partner, and helps them keep their space and freedom.

The studies revealed there were no differences between men and women in this respect and just as many men and women had an avoidant attachment style and the correlation with infidelity is just as strong on both sides.

Ms Beaulieu-Pelletier says contrary to popular belief, infidelity isn't more prevalent in men.

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