Considerate Partners Are Less Likely To Cheat
Researchers tested the commitment of romantically-involved volunteers and concluded that those who considered their partner’s perspective were less likely to stray.
Participants were asked to either adopt the perspective of their actual romantic partner – or not – and were then exposed to temptation.
They were shown photos of attractive individuals, they interacted with an attractive person, and they were told to visualize themselves having a passionate affair.
The researchers at Reichman University, in Herzliya, measured how committed they were to their current partner, and how interested they were in the attractive stranger in each study.
They found that seeing the situation through the partner’s eyes could increase commitment and desire for them, while decreasing sexual and romantic interest in alternative partners.
“People commit to monogamous relationships with the intent of maintaining sexual exclusivity but often fail to do so,” said Gurit E. Birnbaum, Professor of Psychology, who led the study.
“We wished to explore whether the beneficial effects of perspective taking extend to regulating reactions to one’s own potentially destructive behavior.
Sign up for our free weekly newsletterSubscribe
“Specifically, in three studies, we examined whether adopting a current partner’s point of view would help romantically involved individuals resist the temptation of alternative partners, encouraging relationship-protective strategies that reduce interest in alternative partners and strengthen the bond with the current partner.”
Previous studies have found that romantically-involved individuals may also accomplish this by ignoring attractive people or perceiving them as less attractive than they are, but people often lack the motivation to do this.
The researchers in this case were examining a different technique to withstand short-term temptations.
“When such situations involve a conflict between the allure of alternative partners and the goal of maintaining the current relationship, perspective taking may tip the scale in favor of long-term considerations over short-term pleasures,” they said.
The research, entitled Put Me in Your Shoes: Does Perspective-Taking Incoulate Against the Appeal of Alternative Partners? is published in The Journal of Sex Research.