Why do cheaters cheat? This age old question has been plaguing men and women since relationships began and with Valentine’s Day a now short, but distant memory, it leaves the betrayed wondering, why? Dr. Duane Jackson, Psychology Department Head, Chairperson and Professor at Morehouse College, has new, intriguing research on relationships and deception, answering the question why cheaters cheat.
When it comes to Valentine’s Day, many dread the spirit while others embrace the romance, and some use the day before, February 13, to celebrate “Mistress Day”, made famous by disgraced politician Elliot Spitzer. Dr. Jackson shared some of his animal research, thoughts on love, deceit and why cheaters cheat, taking some of his busy time to answer a few of the Sex and Relationships Examiner's questions as well.
In his research, presented at the Institute of Higher Learning entitled "Deceptive Signaling," Dr. Jackson notes the difference between human and animal deception is the presence or lack of choice. Animals have been genetically programmed, so they really don’t have choices. Humans, however, do have choices, and furthermore, are capable of conscious deception.
EX: Why do cheaters cheat?
Dr. Duane Jackson: There is no single reason as to why some men and women cheat. Here are a few reasons:
- They know that they can get away with it.
- They are not satisfied in the relationship they are in and don’t see an easy way out.
- The thrill of it - having an affair is an adrenaline rush.
- It is a way to gain fame or fortune (having an affair with a powerful and/or rich man/woman).
- Some men/women are “closet” bisexuals.
- Some men may find that they love the women they are with, but one woman is not enough and vice/versa.
- Some cheaters cheat because they simply feel they need a change.
EX: What is the difference between cheating in animals and cheating in humans?
Dr. Duane Jackson: There is no single reason as to why some men cheat. Here are a few reasons: For animals, cheating is, for the most part, instinctive and tied to reproduction. For humans, cheating is not instinctive but rather a conscious decision tied more to sex than reproduction.
Ex: Do cheaters actually want to get caught?
Dr. Duane Jackson: Whether the individual wants to get caught or not is really contingent on why they cheat in the first place.
Because Dr. Jackson’s area of specialization is animal behavior, rather than additional information on cheating in humans, he provided information on cheating in the animal world that the readers might find interesting.
Remember for the most part that “cheating” in the animal world is mostly tied to instinct and reproduction.
Cheating Females (Fireflies or Lightning Bugs)
Fireflies or lighting bugs (depending on what part of the country you are from) flash their lights to communicate with one another. Females tend to be in one position on a bush tree or blade of grass and males tend to be flying around. At any one time, you may have several species of fireflies flying around at the same time in the same area. To avoid mating with the wrong species, each species has its own flash signal. There is a species of firefly in which the female detects a male firefly of a different species and will change her signal to pretend to be that species. The male flies down to meet her with the intent to mate but instead this female kills him and eats him once he lands. This species of firefly is not a “black widow.” If she sees a male of her own species, she will flash the correct signal and when the male comes down she will do the “right thing”.
Cheating Male Crickets to Attract the Female
When you hear crickets chirping, that is a male telling other males to stay out of my territory - “ if you come in I will fight.” But, it is also telling females to come in. Females can hear the chirps but they cannot chirp. From the male’s perspective, this is a lot of work. Much energy is used to chirp and also defend your territory. There are some male crickets that take a short cut – they cheat. Rather than chirping and defending a territory, they engage in satellite behavior where they circle another male’s territory right outside the border and search for females entering a chirp male’s territory. Once they encounter a female attracted to the chirps of the territorial male, the satellite male stops the female and starts a courtship chirp and ends up mating with the female for far less work.
Monogamy in the Animal World
Over 90% of bird species are monogamous, while monogamy is very rare in mammal species the group we belong to.
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