Sex and sport: Winning men play a cheating game
Men who triumph on the pitch get a testosterone boost that makes them more likely to stray, a study has found
Men who are winners on the soccer pitch or rugby field are more likely to cheat on their partners.
A Cambridge University research team found that men only have to believe they’ve bested a male counterpart in competition to get a testosterone boost and an inflated sense of their value as a sexual prospect.
Researchers measured hormone levels and self-perceived attractiveness and confidence in approaching women, in 38 men, all in their 20s.
Data was captured before and after they competed in a head-to-head battle on rowing machines.
The competitions in the study were rigged to randomly declare the winner, regardless of who was the stronger rower.
While previous studies have shown that winning can affect male hormones, it was not known whether this was as a result of the effort it takes to win or the belief that one is victorious.
The latest study revealed that just being convinced of a win or a loss was enough to cause male hormonal fluctuations likely to influence sexual behaviour.Researchers took saliva samples to test hormone levels before and after the rowing races. Psychological questionnaires, designed to gauge self-esteem and mating behaviour, were also administered. Men who thought they were winners had testosterone levels 14.6% higher than their deflated opponents.
In addition, the men who felt like winners were 11.29% more likely to approach attractive women in an effort to instigate sexual relations.
Psychologists say testosterone is the hormone linked with aggression, lust and sex.
“Heightened levels will likely increase a person’s desire for sex. In this instance, cheating can be regarded as being hormone driven rather that a love-based response,” said Dr Ingrid Artus.
Durban psychologist Rakhi Beekrum said when men felt confident “it’s easier to approach another woman and this is even easier if he is already being admired for his win”.
“Elevated testosterone also decreases one’s fear of punishment so there is less concern about the consequences of the infidelity being discovered.
“The question that may naturally arise for spouses then, is whether they should perhaps stop their husbands from playing competitive sport?
“What’s important to bear in mind is that one single factor cannot predict infidelity.”