Feb 28, 2007

Online Quizzes on Lying, Love and Romance

The TruthAboutDeception.com has recently added several online quizzes dealing with lying, cheating, love and romance.

These quizzes, however, are probably more useful in terms of raising issues rather than being informative as participation is based on self-selection. For what it's worth, these quizzes do allow respondents to compare their answers with other people who have completed the survey.

Here is a listing of these online quizzes:

Feb 27, 2007

An Interesting News Story and Book Excerpt on Infidelity

Two short and interesting articles dealing with infidelity and betrayal:

  • An interesting article on the Alibi Network - a company which will go to elaborate lengths, for a small fee, to help you skip work or cheat on your spouse.
  • An excerpt from Mr. Wrong: Real-Life Stories About the Men We Used to Love - a new book featuring real-life accounts of troubled relationships.

Feb 23, 2007

Signs of Lying

People who study deception know that there are very few, if any, nonverbal signs of lying.

And even if people did give off consistent clues when lying, it would still be difficult to detect deception for a variety of reasons which I've highlighted before:

A new study on the nonverbal indicators of deception by Siegfried Sporer and Barbara Schwandt once again reveals that many of the clues thought to be associated with lying, are not. The study also reveals that liars often behave just the opposite of what people expect.

And the study shows that the relationship between nonverbal cues and lying is complex - there isn't a simple and straightforward set of clues that can be identified - the cues vary based on the nature of the lie, a person's motivation, level of preparation, and so on.

In short, if you are looking for an easy way to tell if someone is lying, don't count on it. And more importantly, never pay anyone to reveal the secrets of how to detect deception. There are much better ways to spend your time and money.

Hat tip to Deception Blog for blogging about Sporer and Schwadt's new study.

Feb 21, 2007

Resources on Infidelity

Some useful resources on infidelity:

Feb 20, 2007

Typology of Cheating

People are fairly comfortable talking to me about cheating, probably because I’m much more curious than judgmental when it comes to such things.

In any case, over the years, I’ve implicitly developed a typology of cheating based on conversations I’ve had with my friends and colleagues who have cheated on their spouses.

My typology is based on the idea that there are three fairly separate emotional systems underlying our romantic relationships: There is sexual desire, love, and attachment. Different types of cheating can occur based on different combinations of these basic emotional components.

To begin with, let me describe the differences between sexual desire, love, and attachment and then I’ll use these components to create my typology of cheating.

An excerpt taken from TruthAboutDeception.com:

Sexual Desire

The first emotional system is sexual desire. Sexual desire involves the lustful, sexually passionate feelings people have for each other. Sexual desire is a very intense and powerful emotion; it can cloud one’s judgmental and prompt risk-taking. Sexual desire is often based on physical appearance, novelty and the chemistry between two people. And while sexual desire motives a lot of our behaviors early on in a relationship, intense levels of sexual desire are difficult to maintain with the same person over the course of time (see, section on the Coolidge Effect).


The second emotional system entails love. And love, in and of itself, is composed of a complex set of feelings. Love often entails feelings of closeness, genuine appreciation, and concern. But, the experience of love is not the same for everyone. For some people love is delusional and needy, or based on emotional game playing, or experienced as the desire to take care of another person (see, Styles of Love).


The last emotional system involves attachment. Attachment is the feeling of security and comfort we get from being close to someone else. Attachment provides a sense of stability, certainty, and safety – the feeling that someone will always be there for you in a time of need. And like with love, there are individual differences in the experience of attachment (see, Attachment Styles).
In a perfect world, perhaps sexual desire, love and attachment would all be directed towards one’s romantic partner and no one else. But, this is not the case. These three emotional components are often not directed toward the same person, especially over the course of time. And to make things more complicated, some of these components, like sexual desire and love, can be directed at more than one person at a time.

Based on these three emotional systems, different types of cheating are possible:

Types of Cheating

Opportunistic Sexual Cheating

This type of cheating occurs when a partner is in love and attached to a spouse, but succumbs to their sexual desire for someone else. Typically, this type of cheating is driven by situational circumstances – opportunity (e.g., travel), risk-taking (thrill of excitement), and alcohol or drug use. The typical one night stand. And the more in love a person is with their spouse, the more guilt he or she will experience as a result of their sexual encounter. But feelings of guilt tend to fade as the fear of getting caught subsides.

Obligatory Sexual Cheating

This type of cheating is based on fear. Fear that resisting someone's sexual advances will result in immediate disapproval or rejection. Essentially, people may have feelings of sexual desire, love and attachment for a spouse, but still end up cheating simply because they have a strong need for approval. And their need for approval, at that moment, can cause them to act in ways which are inconsistent with their other feelings. Simply put, some people cheat, not because they want to cheat, but because in the situation, it can be too difficult to say "no." However, people who cheat in order appease others often experience tremendous guilt and shame. Ironically, their desire for approval, in the immediate situation, causes people to act in ways which ultimately disappoint someone else - their spouse. This category of cheating was provided by a viewer.

Romantic Cheating

This type of cheating occurs when one is attached to a spouse, but experiences sexual desire and love for someone else. The traditional emotional and sexual affair. In such situations, people often make promises to leave a spouse to be with their lover, but fail to do so. Their attachment to their spouse prevents them from leaving. Often these situations end in misery. Lovers feel betrayed and cheating spouses end up staying in a loveless marriage. A classic example of Romantic Cheating can be found here.

Conflicted Romantic Cheating

This type of cheating occurs when people experience genuine love and sexual desire for more than one person at a time. Despite our idealistic notions of having only one true love, it is possible to experience intense romantic love for multiple people simultaneously (see, Polyamory). While such situations are emotional possible, pragmatically, they are very complicated and tend to create a lot of anxiety and stress. In this case, cheating spouses, in their attempt not to cause anyone harm, tend to end up hurting everyone.

Commemorative Cheating

This type of cheating occurs when people are in a committed relationship, but have no feelings for that person. There is no sexual desire, or love or attachment – only a sense of commitment keeps a couple together. When people cheat in this type of situation, the overriding concern seems to be for keeping appearances… emotionally there is no angst or guilt, just concern for what other people might think.
It is important to understand how sexual desire, romantic love, and attachment can produce different outcomes when trying to recover from an affair.

Feb 17, 2007

Feb 14, 2007

Relationship Anxiety Day

Today is Valentine's Day.

And it also happens to be the day when the most news stories about infidelity get published. Here is just a sample of some of the stories about infidelity which are appearing in the press today:

Why is there so much collective cynicism in the press about true love and fidelity on a day meant to celebrate romantic relationships?

Can you imagine the press publishing articles about the pitfalls of being Christian on Christmas, or articles highlighting military abuses on Veteran's Day?

Maybe when it comes to love and romance, it is easier for people to question the idea of true love given that many people have experienced betrayal first hand. Many people through their own thoughts and actions have betrayed a lover at one time or another or they have been betrayed by a loved one.

So while lovers may spend Valentine's Day exchanging flowers, chocolates, and cards... part of the day is probably spent thinking about downside of being in love - betrayal, heartache and pain.

Perhaps the press are not as cynical as they appear, rather they understand their readership fairly well.

Feb 10, 2007

Insults, Sexual Interest, Sperm Competition, and Infidelity

Upcoming Research on Romantic Relationships:

Men use insults (e.g., "you're an idiot, you're ugly, you make me miserable") as a mate retention tactic. Essentially, if a man can convince his parter that she's an unworthy mate, she'll be less likely to leave him.

Citation: McKibbin, W. F., Goetz, A. T., Shackelford, T. K., Schipper, L. D., Starratt, V.G., & Stewart-Williams, S. (in press). Why do men insult their intimate partners? Personality and Individual Differences.
Men who suspect their partners of cheating may become more sexually aroused and sexually coercive as a means of combating a reproductive rival. Essentially, men show more sexual interest in a partner when cues to infidelity exist - men engage in sperm warfare.
Citation: Shackelford, T. K., & Goetz, A. T. (in press). Adaptation to sperm competition in humans. Current Directions in Psychological Science.
Men who spend more time apart from their partners since the last time they had sexual intercourse are more likely to want to have sex, be more persistent in their sexual advances, and be more upset by sexual rejection. The results are interpreted in terms of sperm competition - sexual interest is a tactic to combat potential female infidelity. Men who spend more time with their partners are less concerned about a reproductive rival and can therefore be more relaxed about having sex.
Citation: Shackelford, T. K., Goetz, A. T., McKibbin, W. F., & Starratt, V. G. (in press). Absence makes the adaptations grow fonder: Proportion of time apart from partner, male sexual psychology, and sperm competition in humans. Journal of Comparative Psychology.

Feb 8, 2007

Are You Having an Online Affair?

The Age.com just posted an article about the pitfalls of online affairs - how easy they are to start and how problematic they can become. As part of that article, they post a series of questions to ask to help determine if your online chatting crosses the line. Here is a copy of the questions and a link to the article:

Are you having an online affair?

If you answer yes to five or more of the following questions you could be crossing the line from online chatting to a cyber affair:
  1. In the past week, have you spent more than three hours talking to an online "friend"?
  2. Do you plan/look forward to your next communication with them?
  3. Does your partner know about your "friend", and would you be comfortable for them to join in chats?
  4. Do you chat when no one is around?
  5. Do you make excuses to go online?
  6. Do you exit the screen if someone walks into the room while you're chatting?
  7. Do you tell your online "friend" more about your thoughts, feelings, achievements and disappointments than your partner?
  8. Do you talk to your "friend" about problems in your real life relationship?
  9. Do you think your online "friend" understands and supports you more than your partner?
  10. Are you becoming unpredictable about how you act towards your partner?
  11. Has your sex life with your partner changed since meeting your "friend"?
  12. Do you think about sending your online "friend'' photos, talking on the phone or meeting for coffee?
Virtual Infidelity - By the Age.com

And some another source of information about online affairs:

Feb 7, 2007

Do Things Ever Change?

Prehistoric lovers are uncovered in Italy, the oldest known human turns out to be a murder victim, and just this week an astronaut is charged with attempted homicide in a love triangle.

What an interesting glimpse of our ancient emotions influencing modern day life.

Feb 6, 2007

Color of Love

The New York Times has an interesting article on the importance of the color of red and it's connection to love. Nicholas Humphrey, who is quoted in the article, is well known for his scholarship on evolution and social relationships...

An excerpt from the article:

As it happens, red is an exquisite ambassador for love, and in more ways than people may realize. Not only is red the color of the blood that flushes the face and swells the pelvis and that one swears one would spill to save the beloved’s prized hide. It is also a fine metaphoric mate for the complexity and contrariness of love. In red we see shades of life, death, fury, shame, courage, anguish, pride and the occasional overuse of exfoliants designed to combat signs of aging. Red is bright and bold and has a big lipsticked mouth, through which it happily speaks out of all sides at once. Yoo-hoo! yodels red, come close, have a look. Stop right there, red amends, one false move and you’re dead.
The entire article can be found here: How do we see red? Count the ways

Feb 5, 2007

Study on Sex and Infidelity

The times just posted an interesting article on sex and infidelity in Great Britain.

An excerpt from the article:

At least 42 per cent of men and 31 per cent of women have kissed another person while in an ongoing, regular partnership... As for vaginal sex outside of marriage or an ongoing partnership, 14 per cent of the under thirties have participated in such activity, as compared to 23 per cent of the 30 and 40-year-olds. Most strikingly, among the over fifties, 30 per cent have had vaginal sex with someone other than his or her regular partner, a figure higher than the national average, across all age groups, for extramarital vaginal penetration. Thus, in spite of the decline in sexual practices across the life cycle, older people will still be much more likely to have engaged in extramarital vaginal penetration...
The entire article can be found here: Sex Matters

The Dark Side of Valentine's Day

As Valentine's Day approaches there always seems to be more stories about infidelity, betrayal and other relationship problems. And for some reason I don't think this is a coincidence.

I imagine that for some people, Valentine's Day forces couples to think about their relationship and doing so may bring problems to light. For instance, feeling obligated to show affection to a partner can often have the opposite effect - forced affection can increase awareness of just how little affection there is in a relationship or how unnatural showing affection has become. Along the same line, being forced to do a task often leads people to discount the task at hand - so many people may devalue the affection they give to a partner simply because it is not freely given. Moreover, seeing genuinely happy couples tends to invite social comparisons - why aren't we as happy or what happened to our relationship? I also find it somewhat ironic that "experts" on infidelity put out more press releases and give more interviews during Valentine's Day than at any other time of the year.

My conclusion: Valentine's Day is great when you are madly in love, but it for many couples it probably creates some awkwardness, and in some cases, disillusionment. And it's just my guess, but I think that the media know that stories about troubled relationships play well this time of the year.

Anyway, here is a recent sample of some news stories about infidelity, cheating and relationship problems: