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These differences have been generally thought due to evolutionary pressures that motivate men towards sexual opportunity and women towards commitment to one partner.In addition, recent research finds that differences in gender may possibly be explained by other mechanisms including power and sensations seeking.
On the other hand, when people live within environments that encompass little stress and threats to the viability of offspring, the need for serious and committed relations is lowered and therefore promiscuity and infidelity are more common.Support for this theory comes from evidence showing higher divorce rates in countries with lower sex ratios and higher monogamy rates in countries with higher sex ratios.Differences in sexual infidelity as a function of gender have been commonly reported.For example, one study found that some women in more financially independent and higher positions of power, were also more likely to be more unfaithful to their partners.These findings suggest there may be various factors that might influence the likelihood of some individuals to engage in extradyadic relationships, and that such factors may account for observed gender differences beyond actual gender and evolutionary pressures associated with each.In one study by Blow, rates were higher in more recent marriages, compared with previous generations.
A study by Liu found that the likelihood for women to be involved in infidelity reached a peak in the seventh year of their marriage and then declined afterwards; whereas for married men, the longer they are in relationships the less likely they are to engage in infidelity, except for the eighteenth year of marriage, at which point the chance that men will engage in infidelity increases.
Studies suggest around 30–40% of unmarried relationships and 18–20% of marriages see at least one incident of sexual infidelity.
Rates of infidelity among women are thought to increase with age.
In that study which involved 19,065 people during a 15-year period, rates of infidelity among men were found to have risen from 20 to 28%, and rates for women, 5% to 15%.
A survey conducted in 1990 found 2.2% of married participants reported having more than one partner during the past year.
According to The New York Times, the most consistent data on infidelity comes from the University of Chicago's General Social Survey (GSS).