What motivates people to forgive adulterers?

Updated: Mar 22

People get caught with their pants down (literally) all the time. Adultery is ubiquitous in human societies. It is estimated that in the US, 1 in 3 married men and 1 in 5 married women have an extramarital affair during their lifetime. Not all revelations of infidelity end in divorce.

In a study by researchers Menelaos Apostolou and Andriana Demosthenous, people were asked what would motivate them to forgive their partner’s infidelity. 32 reasons were reported by participants from Cyprus (N=162) which fell into four categories. The most prominent reason was having children, followed by (in order of decreasing prominence) own infidelity, reduced likelihood for future infidelity, and dependency on partner.

Participants who scored higher in trait Agreeableness were found to be more likely to forgive their partner’s infidelity.

Read more about the study here.