Powerful women 'will have affairs just like men': Study

Powerful women 'will have affairs just like men': Study

Powerful women 'will have affairs just like men': Study

A lot of research has been devoted to human sexual behaviour as it relates to power and as a result a few different theories have emerged.

Perhaps one of the most surprising findings is that it isn't just powerful men that cheat, the more power a woman wields the more likely she is to stray as well.

In a study conducted by the Tilburg University of the Netherlands, researchers found that regardless of gender, risk taking behaviour or frequent trips away from home, there was a direct correlation between power and infidelity.

This particular study found that the main attribute that powerful people share is a high level of confidence and that this confidence made people more likely to believe that they could obtain whatever they wanted and were more willing to take risks to obtain it, conversely the less confident or powerful the person the more likely they were to be inhibited by fear and uncertainty.

The study explained it away by saying that there are still so few women in power, for example only 17 out of 100 senators are female, that statistically they can't get in trouble as frequently as men.

This upcoming study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, looks at the role that power, rather than gender, plays in infidelity.

Using a large, anonymous internet survey of 1561 individuals, Joris Lammers of Tilburg University and a team of researchers set out to discover if there is a higher risk of unfaithfulness in people in positions of power, regardless of gender.

"There has been a lot of research in the past that indicates that gender is the strongest predictor of infidelity, but none of these studies have been done on powerful women," Lammers said.

The survey was targeted to readers of a weekly magazine that was geared toward professionals.

The respondents varied greatly in levels of power; 58 per cent had a non-management function, 22 per cent had a management function, 14 per cent were in middle management and 6 per cent were in a top management position.

They measured power by asking participants to indicate, by clicking with a mouse, how powerful they thought they were.

Lammers and his team also measured other variants such as confidence, distance and the perception of risk as it relates to infidelity.

"People often assume that powerful men may be more likely to cheat because they have risk-taking personalities or because of distance, such as frequent business trips that many powerful people go on", Lammers said.

The study revealed two key discoveries to why powerful people cheat.

First, there is a strong association between power and confidence and that the amount of confidence a person has is the strongest link between power and unfaithfulness.

Second, the researchers found that among powerful people gender made no difference in past digressions or the participants' desires to cheat.

However, Lammers believes that as society modernises many gender differences will disappear.

He notes that evolution is not a fixed process and neither are gender labels.

"As a social psychologist, I believe that the situation is everything and that the situation or instance is often stronger than the individual," Lammers added.

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