Psychologists at the University of New Mexico recently reported on the results of a study that shows how genetic similarities between partners are predictive of sexual responsiveness and cheating, according to this NewScientist article. The team focused on specific genes belonging to the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), analyzing 48 heterosexual couples who had been in an exclusive relationship for at least two years. The participants were asked about their sexual responsiveness towards their partner and their unfaithfulness in the relationship.
The results show that MHC genetic similarities dramatically affected the women. They were less sexually responsive to their partners, more likely to have affairs, and more attracted to other males, particularly during fertile days of their menstrual cycles. In relationships where MHC genetic differences were significant, these potentially relationship-splitting behaviors were either absent or greatly reduced.
The fraction of MHC genes shared directly correlated to the woman's number of adulterous partners – if the man and woman had 50% of the MHC genes in common, the women had a 50% chance of cheating with another man, on average.
Men did not seem to be affected by the MHC similarities. The men's average sexual interest for their partners was the same regardless of genetic similarities or differences, and the same was true for their interest in women outside of their primary relationship.
The results were so predictive for the women that there has been talk of developing a genetic test to determine how likely a woman is to be faithful to a specific partner.
Is it just me, or do others find that a scary concept?
The study results make sense when you think in evolutionary terms. Every species is more likely to prosper when there is plenty of genetic diversity. I just think the idea of a compatibility test makes the whole dating process a bit too clinical for my taste. What do you think?
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