Washington, Oct 31 Straying women beware. The male is particularly good at sniffing out your infidelities, even though you may have fine-tuned the art of concealing your liasons.
"Eighty percent of women’s inferences about fidelity or infidelity were correct, but men were even better, accurate 94 per cent of the time," said Paul Andrews at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, who conducted the study with colleagues.
They were also more likely to catch out a cheating partner, detecting 75 per cent of the reported infidelities compared with 41 per cent discovered by women However, men were also more likely to suspect infidelity when there was none.
Andrews said this makes evolutionary sense because unlike women, men can never be certain a baby is theirs. "Men have far more at stake," he said. "When a female partner is unfaithful, a man may himself lose the opportunity to reproduce, and find himself investing his resources in raising the offspring of another man."
Andrews suggested that women have countered this by becoming better at covering up affairs. Complex statistical analysis of the data hinted that a further 10 per cent of the women in the study had cheated on top of the 18.5 per cent who admitted to it in the questionnaires, whereas the men had been honest about their philandering.
"This adds to the evidence that men have evolved defences to detect their partner’s infidelity," said David Buss at the University of Texas, Austin. It demonstrates a "fascinating cognitive bias that leads men to err on the side of caution by overestimating a partner’s infidelity," he added, reports New Scientist.
Andrews and colleagues gave 203 young heterosexual couples confidential questionnaires asking them whether they had ever strayed, and whether they suspected or knew their partner had strayed. In this, 29 per cent of men said they had cheated, compared with 18.5 per cent of women.
These findings were highlighted in Human Nature.