A team at the University of Western Australia showed almost 200 photos to men and women – and found the women were able to spot the love rats more accurately than they expected.
They say the idea women can judge a man’s sexual faithfulness just by looking at them has ‘a kernel of truth.
The eyes have it: Researchers found women can tell if a man will cheat on them just by looking at him far more accurately than previously thought.
The research, published in the journal Biology Letters, studied whether men and women are able to tell just by looking at an unfamiliar male face whether he is ‘sexually untrustworthy’.
‘We routinely form impressions of people from their faces, and these impressions sometimes contain a kernel of truth,’ say the team, led by Gillian Rhodes.
‘Impressions of trustworthiness are central to interpersonal relationships, but their accuracy remains contentious.’
The researchers showed 34 men and 34 women 189 color photographs of Caucasian faces and asked the participants to rate the faces by level of ‘trustworthiness’.
Each of the people photographed gave accounts of their sexual history.
‘Women’s ratings of men’s unfaithfulness showed small-moderate correlations with men’s past unfaithfulness (cheating, poaching),’ say the team.
‘We conclude that impressions of sexual faithfulness from faces have a kernel of truth, at least for women, and that they may help people assess the quality of potential mates about whom they have minimal [behavioral] information,” the researchers wrote.
Professor Leigh Simmons, Director of UWA’s Centre for Evolutionary Biology, said female participants had a much higher strike rate than their male counterparts in accurately choosing whether strangers of the opposite sex were likely to be cheaters.
Women got it wrong 38% of the time compared with men who chose wrongly 77% of the time.
‘What was really surprising was that women were able to do that above chance,’ Professor Simmons said.
‘They were able to look at a face and rate it for faithfulness or unfaithfulness.
‘There was a correlation between their ratings for faithfulness and the actual behaviour of the individuals they were rating.
‘Now men couldn’t do that, or the relationship was much weaker.’
He said the gap may be due to any number of reasons.
The team found that when women looked at men, they judged their likelyhood to cheat on how masculine they look, rather than how attractive they were.
‘It may be that women have evolved the greater ability to make accurate assessments than men because the costs of making mistakes, for women, are greater,’ Professor Simmons said.
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