More evidence that our snap judgments are more accurate than we think.
Can we tell if someone is cheating on their partner by just looking at the couple communicate with each other? A new study suggests that you may actually be able to pick up signs of infidelity to see couples interact for only a few minutes.
We are actually surprisingly good in determining the personality of others from just a “thin slice” of behavior. In one study, students watched in silence, nine-second video clips of professors lecturing were able to predict with some accuracy assessments for its students’ your teaching.1 A brief look at two second photo someone was enough for people to successfully determine if they had a violent past.2 Dozens of other studies have confirmed the surprising accuracy of our snap judgments.
Researchers have suggested that our ability to make these inaccurate judgments quickly is automatic and adaptive.3 An example of the adaptive value of making snap judgments is accurate in detecting infidelity.4 If you want to make sure your partner is not doing trap, help to be able to detect a cheater.
From an evolutionary perspective, those who are experts in detecting cheaters have more reproductive success, such as the inability to detect infidelity could put people at risk of investing in the children of another man, and women at risk of mating with men who are not going to invest the resources in their offspring. In two studies, Lambert and colleagues investigated whether we can detect infidelity just watching people interact with their romantic partners for a few minutes.4
In the first study, 51 undergraduates, all of whom were in relationships, independently completed questionnaires about their own infidelity. By completing this questionnaire, they were asked to think about the person who is not a current partner were more attracted. To provide participants privately admit to infidelity, researchers asked them questions that gradually showed the highest levels of infidelity, from relatively innocuous questions that evaluate the mutual attraction between the participant and attractive alternative partner.5 two key questions asked participants to rate their level (“How emotionally intimate were with this person?”) emotional infidelity and sexual infidelity (“How physically intimate were you with this person?”).
Each participant then interacted with their partner on a task where one wearing a blindfold, while the other gave instructions, telling the blindfolded person to draw something. These interactions between three and five minutes were videotaped for later coding.
Could external observers detect cheaters just watch these videos?
To test the accuracy of observers six coders watched each video and rated the likelihood that the participant felt was unfaithful to participate in various Behaviors- “What are the chances that this person has shown interest in an alternative to his / her partner to “?; “How likely is that the person flirted or made other advances in someone other than the couple?”; And, “How likely do you think it is that this person has had sex with someone other than his / her partner?” The results showed a moderate but significant correlation between ‘ratings and the participants own encoders indications of cheating behavior. Additional analyzes ruled out the possibility that the results were due to gender cheat or domain level.
These results suggest that were somewhat accurate encoders to detect cheaters.
In a second study, researchers examined whether perceptions of trust and commitment of the participants may be at the root of these alleged infidelity. This time, the coders assessed videos of 43 couples completed the same task of drawing blindfolded as those in the first study. But in addition to the assessment of infidelity, coders also rated the degree of commitment of the participants went to their relationships and how trustworthy they appeared. The results showed that perceptions of trust and commitment mediated the relationship between (coded evaluator) the real and perceived infidelity. In other words, coders are required in the evaluation of infidelity, in part, because they realized that the infidels participants seemed less trustworthy and committed during the brief interaction.
This research represents only a first step in understanding how to detect infidelity. As the authors note in their paper, participants in this study were college students participating in relationships, so the results may not be applicable to the detection of infidelity in relationships or marriages committed to long term. This study also examined the gradations of infidelity (eg, how participants had been physically intimate with another person), which differs from a more objective definition of cheating.
Still, these results suggest that objective observers can detect infidelity with some accuracy. But, can we detect infidelity in our own (or our friends’) relationships? Or are our own judgments too biased and clouded by illusions? Research on the detection of deception in romantic relationships suggests that even though we know our partners well enough to catch them in a lie, they often do not, because we believe in them.6 This desire to believe our partners can prevent us from detecting infidelity, even clear to outsiders.
Again, these results are only preliminary, but suggest that when you have a hunch someone is cheating on a friend or family member, you may be right.