Is cheating genetic?

Is cheating genetic?

Being unfaithful to your partner could be genetic, according to the latest research findings. People with a certain "cheating" gene variant are more likely to have casual sex and one-night stands – and to cheat on their partners.

It's all down to a gene called DRD4, which affects how much dopamine your brain produces. This is the 'pleasure chemical' that makes experiences like eating food and having sex feel so good.

Dopamine junkies

People with the ‘cheating’ version of the DRD4 gene are more likely to take risks because they get a bigger dopamine pay-off, the study's lead author Justin Garcia told Science Daily.

People without the cheating gene variant might skydive, land, and be satisfied with the experience. People with the cheating variant immediately long to do it all over again.

Both groups have the same experience. But only the second group are thrill-seekers, driven to repeat the experience again and again to satisfy their cravings for dopamine.

This craving for dopamine might also explain why people with the ‘cheating’ variant of the DRD4 gene are more unfaithful to their partners even when they are wildly in love and claim to be totally committed to them.

“I just can’t help it”

Garcia points out that the study’s results don’t let cheaters off the hook for their bad behaviour, but it can explain their motivations.

Perhaps the most provocative finding is that there may be two different bio-chemical systems, one which keeps you faithful the other which pushes you to be unfaithful. And they both work at the same time. So when you hear “ I love you” but “I just couldn’t help it” together, there may be some truth in it.


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