In a new study, scientists found that when a partner cheats, men are usually more jealous about the sexual details of infidelity, while women are more upset about the emotional aspects. Or at least, that's what researchers learned from watching TV.
A study conducted by Barry X. Kuhle, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, had students analyze 102 confrontations between the couple and the other man or woman on the reality show Cheaters. According to MSNBC, of the men who were cheated on, 57 percent asked their partner about what sex was like with the other partner. The female victims of infidelity only asked about sexual details 29 percent of the time, but focused 71 percent of their questions on the emotions involved.
Plenty of research has concluded that men are more focused on sexual aspects of a relationship while women are more focused on emotions, but there are obvious problems with this study. Kuhle admits that his TV subjects' reactions may have been influenced by producers, or just the fact that they were on TV. Psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz, who wasn't involved in the research, says, "an edited TV show [is] perhaps reflective of the mindset of the producer but not a true study."
The research might not tell us much about relationships, but it does provide interesting insight into the difficulties of studying jealousy in relationships. Kuhle may have used the show because it's essentially impossible to study people's reactions to infidelity while they're still in the situation. Scientists can't ask one group of people to cheat and another to stay faithful as a control. Therefore most of the studies we have on jealousy involve researchers asking subjects to imagine what they'd feel like if their partner cheated, or to remember a time when a partner was unfaithful.
Still, consulting reality TV is just as unreliable as asking subjects how they'd react to a certain scenario. It's a bit like trying to analyze why people make horrible decisions when they're drunk by watching Jersey Shore reruns.
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