Five Science Insights Into Relationships

Does a Big Chin Make for a Big Cheater?

Researchers at four North American universities published findings last month showing that women with more masculine facial features may be more promiscuous -- even when in a relationship -- but also found that men were typically able to spot this and judged these women to be less suitable as long-term partners.

Lorne Campbell, a psychology researcher at the University of Western Ontario and one of the authors of the research, noted that men were generally able to determine whether women were less sexually restrained -- confirmed by questionnaires given to the women -- despite only seeing pictures of their faces.

"In some cases, our desirability as a long-term mate can be conveyed through our facial features, to a certain degree," said Campbell.

One possible culprit is testosterone, a hormone typically found at higher levels in males, which has taken a beating recently as being responsible for everything ranging from wars to the current financial crisis.

The hormone, linked to more masculine faces (with features like more prominent chins) in women, is also implicated in making these same women more promiscuous, although Campbell noted that in his study they did not measure testosterone levels in the women who participated.

He said, however, that men dating a woman with a larger chin should not be concerned, and shouldn't use that fact in deciding if she is a good long-term partner.

"We're looking at averages across large samples, so it doesn't really apply to small samples," said Campbell. "It's difficult to use that to help you make good mating decisions."

Women and Men Are More Offended by Different Types of Infidelity

When Cynthia Rodriguez filed for divorce from all-star shortstop Alex in July, her divorce papers stated that "Alex has emotionally abandoned his wife and children."

Alex had been spending time with pop star Madonna, learning about Jewish mysticism, or kabala, and the bond the two stars formed apparently excluded his wife. Even if there was nothing sexual going on, it was enough, it seems, to push Cynthia to file divorce papers.

And A-Rod's alleged emotional infidelity may indeed have been worse than if he had a sexual affair.

"Men are particularly averse to sexual infidelity in relationships," said Campbell, explaining why, in his own research, men preferred women they perceived as less likely to be promiscuous. "Some research has shown that women are particularly averse to emotional infidelity."

The evolutionary reasons for this go back to the goals of men and women. Men, concerned about their genes being passed on, would like to avoid spending time raising children who are not their own.

Women, meanwhile, are concerned that when they have children, someone is there to help raise them, and so they want to avoid having their partner devote resources outside of the relationship.

Despite this, Campbell said, sexual infidelity by men in a relationship still tends to offend women, even if not as much as men.


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