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How Do You Know If A Marriage Is Headed For Infidelity And Divorce?


A new study out of Florida State University and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology provides unique insight into the psychological responses linked to infidelity and divorce.

Specifically, researchers in the study tested two psychological processes that everyone and every relationship has in varying degrees: “Attentional Disengagement”—the ability to direct attention away from other potential romantic partners — and “Evaluative Devaluation”— the tendency to downplay the attractiveness of someone else. To be sure, these finds are arguably important in assisting individuals who are experiencing infidelity in their lives and contemplating divorce as a result.

Predictors of Infidelity

While it is arguably common sense that those who were able to quickly disengage their attention from an attractive person were found less likely to engage in infidelity, the researchers found that those who looked away from pictures of attractive individuals who were not their partners in as little as a few hundred milliseconds were very specifically almost 50 percent less likely to engage in infidelity. Conversely, those who took longer to look away were not only more likely to engage in infidelity, but to also get divorced. In other words, both devaluation and disengagement were positive predictors of relationship success.

Perhaps less surprisingly, the reactions were more spontaneous/subconscious rather than pursued with effort or consciously, and (as suggested by the researchers) may be somewhat shaped by both biology and experiences during childhood. Still, the study’s authors noted that people may be able to control their ability to employ both devaluation and disengagement when faced with temptation.

The study also identified the strongest predictors of infidelity as attractiveness, history of short-term relationships, marital satisfaction, and sexual satisfaction. While it is perhaps common sense that those less satisfied with their relationship were more likely to be unfaithful, the study surprisingly also found that those who experienced higher sexual satisfaction in their relationship were also more likely to engage in infidelity, suggesting that, for them, infidelity could be the product of their own perspective on sex versus any sexual dissatisfaction in their main relationship. In addition, men who had more short-term partners prior to marriage were more likely to engage in infidelity, while the opposite was true for women.

Attractiveness also played a key role in predicting infidelity, and proved to be very gender-specific, whereby it was negatively associated with infidelity amongst women but not men. In other words, less attractive women were more likely to engage in infidelity and were also more likely to have male partners who engaged in infidelity.

Florida Divorce Lawyers

If you or a loved one has experienced infidelity and/or has decided to pursue divorce and move on, having a supportive, knowledgeable divorce attorney by your side can help make the difference in ensuring you make intelligent, strategic choices.

Contact our experienced Orlando divorce lawyers at the Arwani Law Firm to find out how we can help you get started.


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