Five Science Insights Into Relationships

"It's not saying that women should cheat, or that that's a better way to live one's life," Haselton said of her research, adding that values are independent of the science.

"It's important to know where [these feelings] come from, so that one can make a fully informed decision about whether to follow them. When women experience these desires…that doesn't bear at all on whether they love their long-term partner."

"We make decisions not to follow our desires all the time," said Haselton, giving dieting as a prominent example. "Humans are fully capable of doing that."

Men May Have a Gene for Monogamy

The notion that men have a gene to make them more monogamous created a stir when news of it came out toward the end of last year.

Having the gene RS3 334 may prompt a man to be more intimate with his partner and more likely to be married, according to a study of voles from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm published last September.

That gene affects a hormone known as arginine vasopressin, which was found to make voles more likely to be interested in choosing a mate and parenting.

The study showed that the gene exists in humans, and men with the gene are more likely to be married, less likely to have conflicts in their marriage and more likely to have their partners report being satisfied with the relationship.

But should the monogamy gene even be a consideration in deciding if a man is right for a relationship?

"There are, of course, many environmental factors that will be more important than this gene variant when it comes to behaviors concerning pair-bonding," said Hasse Walum, the lead researcher on the study.

The gene might give science insight into relationships in the future, but it isn't likely to help women choose a man in the here and now.

"Our findings will not be very useful then trying to determine how happy men will be in future relationships, but we believe that our results could in the future help us to better understand the biology behind human-bonded relationships," said Walum.

How Much Does the Nose Know?

Is it important to find someone with different immunity genes?

Liking your significant other's scent is judged to be important by many, and some researchers have tied it to the likelihood of a couple staying together and the likelihood of someone cheating on his or her partner.

The reason, researchers have said, is that scents let us know about our partner's immune genes, and we desire someone with different genes in order to give our offspring the best possible immune system.

Some studies have even indicated -- by having women smell men's shirts -- that the nose plays a strong role in picking a mate.

But that research may be shortsighted.

A study published by researchers in the United Kingdom, France and China showed that Americans and Europeans may prefer the scents of people with a different immune system, but Africans they studied actually seemed to prefer mates who had similar immune systems.

So scent may play a role in mate selection, but it isn't clear how big a role or how its effects work.

So don't panic if you aren't enamored of the scent of your mate's dirty laundry.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
  • |
  • 4
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...