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Many people agree that cheating is a) bad and b) morally wrong (in fact, 91 per cent in one Gallup survey reported so). Shame on cheaters! Yet, no matter how despicable people think the action is, the truth is that people do cheat–in fact, more than 9 per cent do.

First, let’s look at a couple of numbers:

While about 21 per cent of men cheat, according to a survey by the University of Chicago’s research arm, NORC, married women are not far behind, and up to 15 per cent of female spouses also cheat.

Now, for a possible cause:

Somewhat surprisingly, cheating may not be as selfish and careless as we’ve all been led to believe. We have all been told it is the morally weak who cheat, or those who toss trust and loyalty to the curb, or those who simply don’t get enough lovin’ at home and whose absent partners and marital unhappiness push them into the cuddling arms of others.

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But, a new wave of scientists now believes that hormones and genes may also play a large role in the philandering actions of cheating spouses.

Most of us have already heard that men’s “biologically-charged propensity to cheat” originates from genetic impulses based on the fact that sleeping with more sexual partners increases a man’s potential number of offspring. But now, preliminary new research finds that such genetic causes may also be at root of female infidelity.

A study in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior found that 40 per cent of the difference in cheating behaviour in women may be attributed to genes. The study’s conclusion was that there was a significant association between sexual promiscuity and what is called the vasopressin receptor gene, a gene that is linked to trust, empathy, physical bonding and behavior in social settings. A gene that, in men, has no influence on promiscuity.

Of course, this is no excuse to explain away cheating as something “in the genes” that can’t be controlled. While the urges may possibly be explained away by biology, the actions that follow are each individual’s responsibility.