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Do Our Genes Make Us Cheat? December 6, 2009

Posted by Geekgirl in Uncategorized.
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An oldie but interesting. If we are more genetically similar to our mates, we are more likely to cheat. From a genetic point of view, this makes sense. Mating with a person whose genes are different increases diversity in the gene pool and decreases the chance of getting two copies of the same defective gene. But can we now say cheating is genetic? “My genes made me cheat.”

Our genes may affect our desire in a way that we don’t understanding. But I doubt that they erase our knowledge that cheating hurts our partners.

It’s not about whether or not a gene makes a behavior natural. It’s about whether or not that behavior hurts someone.

Psychol Sci. 2006 Oct;17(10):830-5.

Major histocompatibility complex alleles, sexual responsivity, and unfaithfulness in romantic couples.

Garver-Apgar CEGangestad SWThornhill RMiller RDOlp JJ.

Department of Psychology, Univerrsity of New Mexico, Albuquerque 87131, USA. garver@unm.edu

Preferences for mates that possess genes dissimilar to one’s own at the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), a polymorphic group of loci associated with the immune system, have been found in mice, birds, fish, and humans. These preferences may help individuals choose genetically compatible mates and may adaptively function to prevent inbreeding or to increase heterozygosity and thereby immunocompetence of offspring. MHC-dissimilar mate preferences may influence the psychology of sexual attraction. We investigated whether MHC similarity among romantically involved couples (N= 48) predicted aspects of their sexual relationship. All women in our sample normally ovulated, and alleles at three MHC loci were typed for each person. As the proportion of MHC alleles couples shared increased, women’s sexual responsivity to their partners decreased, their number of extrapair sexual partners increased, and their attraction to men other than their primary partners increased, particularly during the fertile phase of their cycles.

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