It can’t get more bizarre than this. A new study suggests that men can identify a woman who is more likely to be unfaithful in a relationship just by looking at a photograph of her. Dr Samantha Leivers at the University of Western Australia wanted to determine whether men had evolved an ability to assess a woman’s likely faithfulness.
She showed men 17 pairs of photographs of unfamiliar women who were matched for age and ethnicity. One woman in the pair reported never cheating on her partner while in a committed relationship. The other reported having cheated on at least two occasions.
Leivers asked men to judge which woman in each pair was likely to be more faithful. The task was carried out twice with different groups of men. Leivers found just by looking at women’s faces, men’s judgments on faithfulness were accurate 55 to 59% of the time.
She said the level of accuracy was “statistically significant but modest”, ABC science reported. “We don’t expect them to be 100% accurate when they are literally just looking at someone’s face for a few seconds,” Leivers said. “The fact that they’re showing any accuracy from this limited information is pretty cool,” she said.
Previous research that got men and women to judge faithfulness in the opposite sex by rating a whole series of photos on a scale showed women were accurate at faithfulness judgments but men were not. “We show for the first time that men’s judgments of faithfulness from images of women can contain a kernel of truth when they are able to directly compare images in a forced choice task,” Leivers said.
Leivers said the new findings provided some evidence that human males had evolved adaptations to prevent cuckoldry by distinguishing women who were more likely to be unfaithful in a relationship.