This just in: Cheating is dumb.
Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist of the London School of Economics and Political Science, has published a study suggesting that men with higher IQs are less likely to cheat on their partners. (“Or,” posited Gawker’s Richard Lawson, “Are they just better at not getting caught?”)
The publication of the paper in Social Psychology Quarterly has, if nothing else, provided yet another opportunity for less cerebral media to publish more pictures of Tiger Woods and various faithless footballers. (As well as glib, scientifically illiterate columns like this one, I suppose.)
Kanazawa’s theory is that primitive man was hardwired for promiscuity, and monogamy is a more recent invention, an “evolutionary novel” behaviour that requires a little more head-horsepower to achieve.
He also found liberals and atheists tended to have higher IQs than conservatives and believers, again reaching for the explanation of evolutionary novelty. Is it any wonder religious conservatives are the least likely to believe in evolution? What’s in it for them?
Smart women, meanwhile, were found no less apt to get some on the side than those with lower IQs. Evolution is tricky stuff, eh?
With all due respect to the good doctor, there may be a bit of confusion of cause and effect going on here. Maybe cheating makes you stupid. The likes of Eliot Spitzer and Bill Clinton, initially considered pretty sharp, ended up looking distinctly dumb once their reckless horndoggery was exposed.
And maybe we’re reading too much into Kanazawa’s findings that “more intelligent men are more likely to value monogamy and sexual exclusivity than less intelligent men,” which is hardly a predictor of behaviour. Most cheaters will acknowledge that it’s wrong, but they do it anyway.
I note another recent study, this one from researchers at the Geneva School of Business, that suggests women wanting happier marriages should seek out husbands less intelligent than themselves. Fine advice if you don’t mind living with a dolt who would, according to Kanazawa, be more prone to adultery.
All of which maybe goes to show that science, while a nifty pursuit for eggheads whose presumed penchant for monogamy leaves them with time on their hands, is a crude tool for mapping the complexities of the relationship you actually live in.
Where does this leave us? Why are you asking me? If you’re dumb enough to sleep around, and experience teaches that many of us are, I’d suggest you’ll need a smarter plan than blaming either your modest IQ or millions of years of evolution when you get caught.