Can women tell if a man will cheat on them just by looking at a photo Researchers claim there is a 'kernel of truth' in the idea
Researchers say women based their decision on how masculine person was, rather than how attractive.Men were unable to perform the same tasks
17:27 GMT, 7 December 2012
Researchers say that women are able to tell just by looking at an unfamiliar male face whether he will cheat on them.
A team at the University of Western Australia showed almost 200 photos to men and women – and found the women were able to spot the love rats more accurately than they expected.
They say the idea women can judge a man's sexual faithfulness just by looking at them has 'a kernel of truth.
The eyes have it: Researchers found women can tell if a man will cheat on them just by looking at him far more accurately than previously thought
The research, published in the journal Biology Letters, studied whether men and women are able to tell just by looking at an unfamiliar male face whether he is 'sexually untrustworthy'
'We routinely form impressions of people from their faces, and these
impressions sometimes contain a kernel of truth,' say the team, led by Gillian Rhodes.
'Impressions of trustworthiness are central to interpersonal relationships, but their accuracy remains contentious.'
The researchers showed 34 men and 34 women 189 color photographs of Caucasian faces and asked the participants to rate the faces by level of 'trustworthiness'.
Each of the people photographed gave accounts of their sexual history.
'Women's ratings of men's
unfaithfulness showed small-moderate correlations with men's past
unfaithfulness (cheating, poaching),' say the team.
'We conclude that impressions of sexual
faithfulness from faces have a kernel of truth, at least for women, and
that they may help people assess the quality of potential mates about
whom they have minimal [behavioral] information,” the researchers wrote.
Professor Leigh Simmons, Director of UWA's Centre for Evolutionary Biology, said female participants had a much higher strike rate than their male counterparts in accurately choosing whether strangers of the opposite sex were likely to be cheaters.
Women got it wrong 38% of the time compared with men who chose wrongly 77% of the time.
'What was really surprising was that women were able to do that above chance,' Professor Simmons said.
'They were able to look at a face and rate it for faithfulness or unfaithfulness.
'There was a correlation between their ratings for faithfulness and the actual behaviour of the individuals they were rating.
'Now men couldn't do that, or the relationship was much weaker.'
He said the gap may be due to any number of reasons.
The team found that when women looked at men, they judged their likelyhood to cheat on how masculine they look, rather than how attractive they were
'It may be that women have evolved the greater ability to make accurate assessments than men because the costs of making mistakes, for women, are greater,' Professor Simmons said.
'On the other hand, the men were making mistakes a lot.
'One potential reason could be that males of most animals, including humans, tend to be less discriminating of their partners because they have less to lose if that partner is unfaithful.
'Obviously they could end up being cuckolded in human terms, but they don't have all the physiological costs of gestation, child bearing and child rearing that women have.
'And males have greater opportunities for reproducing with other individuals.”
The authors said their research provided the first evidence that impressions of unfaithfulness made from the faces of opposite-sex strangers contain a kernel of truth.
They also found a high correlation between attractiveness and perceptions of trustworthiness, with more attractive people judged more likely to be trustworthy.
'There might be some sort of attractiveness halo effect going on there,' Professor Simmons said.
'What was also really interesting is there was no correlation between peoples' rating of sexual faithfulness and trustworthiness.
'So they're obviously very different tasks and people are looking for different things.'
He said even though women might have a radar more finely attuned to unfaithfulness, there was more to relationships than first impressions.
'We don't go into relationships based just on those sorts of visual cues.
'We have long periods of courtships and we get to know individuals and learn more about them than your first impressions might convey.
'Nevertheless we make errors even then.'