Saturday, July 31, 2010

Profile of a female philanderer

++Addition++Roissy notes that he previously discerned what the GSS shows. When the data agree with you...


The indefatigable Randall Parker of Parapundit and Futurepundit has been wondering about characteristics of women who cheat on their husbands relative to those who remain faithful. He suspects that women who are shy, religious, smart, and rural are the surest bets, the opposites presumably being archetypal floozies. Further, he thinks it likely that there are occupational differences as well.

In 2006, the GSS did deploy ten items to gauge Big Five personality traits, but they are not cross-referenced with data on marital fidelity. I have not been able to find anything else in the survey's library to get at shyness.

The relationships between faithfulness and religiosity, intelligence, community type, and occupation are all open to query, however.

In the proceeding tables, the value displayed is the percentage of women in the relevant category who report to have cheated on a spouse at some point.

CommunityCheat %
Big city14.2
Small town11.7

The differences are modest. Not surprisingly, closer proximity to other people and the perpetual bustle of city life is more conducive to running around. Sex and the Countryside doesn't quite get there.

ChurchgoingCheat %
Once a year18.2
Less than monthly12.8
Monthly but not weekly12.1
Almost every week9.3
At least weekly8.9

My advice stands: Marry someone who loves Jesus (and her father, too). Those who put forward some variation of the Pascalian Wager as an argument for why a man should attend services would benefit from including, at least tangentially, that church girls are golden.

Female respondents are divided into five groups of roughly equal size; Really Smarts (wordsum score of 9-10, comprising 13% of the population), Pretty Smarts (7-8, 26%), Normals (6, 22%), Pretty Dumbs (4-5, 27%), and Really Dumbs (0-3, 12%).

IntelligenceCheat %
Really smarts16.4
Pretty smarts11.5
Pretty dumbs11.7
Really dumbs6.9

I'm not sure that I would've predicted this, but openness to experience and intelligence are positively correlated. Especially unintelligent people are generally not savvy enough to pull off an extramarital fling even if they wanted to. Seems like the best bet is to go with the girl who is sharp enough to be an accountant or a school teacher, but not a high-powered senior partner of a law firm. Who wants a woman whose prestige is higher than yours, anyway?

Using the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO88), the following table includes those for which the GSS recorded at least 60 females responses:

Occupation as/in...Cheat %
Real estate agents and appraisers26.3
Writers, sculptors, painters, actors, and other artists21.5
Sales and finance16.6
Engineers and technicians16.3
Social work15.8
Human resources 15.7
Store stockers15.3
Certified nurse assistants14.8
Operations department managers14.7
Domestic help14.3
Machine operators14.0
Building maintenance13.9
Personal care13.7
Hairdressers and beauticians13.2
Retail/wholesale managers12.2
Life sciences12.0
Medical assistants12.0
Secretaries and other office clerks10.3
Retail sales9.4
Sewers and knitters9.1
Office department managers8.3
Bank tellers3.0
Teaching assistants0.0*

Despite the common image of the office secretary doing more for the boss than just taking calls and completing paperwork, it is women in traditionally female job roles who are the most trustworthy. The teaching environment is ideal, with women surrounded by kids, thus fostering the maternal instinct, shared with colleagues who are predominately also women. Excepting accountants, the women who play the man's game as lawyers, financial consultants, property selling, and sales are the most likely to stray. Artsy careers, requiring a high level of openness, are also risky bets. The sheer number of men waitresses inevitably come into contact with means opportunities for flings abound.

GSS variables used: SEX(2), EVSTRAY(1-2), ISCO88, WORDSUM(0-3)(4-5)(6)(7-8)(9-10), COMTYPE(1)(2)(3)(4-5), ATTEND(0)(1-2)(3)(4-5)(6)(7-8)

* Sixty-nine female teaching assistants either currently or previously married answered the question on marital infidelity and not a single one of them reported having strayed. That's not a typo (at least not on my part--I can't speak for the GSS' data entry team!).


OneSTDV said...

Correlation between jobs that require masculine traits and willingness to engage in masculine behavior (i.e. cheating to obtain sexual pleasure)??

Jokah Macpherson said...

Even though Roissy's apocalyptic worldview was shattered by your last post, it looks like he was still right about staying away from lawyer chicks.

"Marry someone who loves Jesus (and her father, too)."

I'm willing to marry someone who loves Jesus but no way am I marrying her father.

Audacious Epigone said...


Yeah, it looks that way. I wonder if lesbians tend to be less faithful than hetero women are?


Haha, I guess that could be read as advising bisexual polygamy...

Steve Sailer said...

My mother was a bank teller for awhile in St. Paul in the 1940s. She said being a bank teller paid poorly, but the job was very respectable. Your data supports that.

agnostic said...

The women in those high-status jobs have high testosterone (judge by how pushy they are), so they're more likely to feel like having more sex with more partners in the first place.

Interesting that the size of the community only has an effect once you move to a big city -- below that it's all the same. I found something similar for happiness (though it varies by ethnicity). Humans are not adapted to communities on the order of millions of inhabitants or more.

Audacious Epigone said...


That gives me an idea for another post. Thanks!


Humans are not adapted to communities on the order of millions of inhabitants or more.

Although you don't make an explicitly evolutionary argument explaining this, those interested should read this post of yours.

Anonymous said...

According to David Buss, the following traits correlate with female cheating: Narcissism, perfectionism, extroversion and attractive looks.

Anonymous said...

I wonder whether dumber people may have a harder time understanding that their GSS infidelity confession really is going to stay private. Therefore I wonder if smarter people may be more likely to fess up.

I think about how much I suck at driving (I may be around the 10th percentile), and how I act in response to knowing this. Namely, if I see something that might be a deer, or a car that is maybe moving faster than I am apt to easily notice, I always assume the worst and take the conservative course, because I know my perceptions are inferior.

Nanonymous said...

Seems like the best bet is to go with the girl who is sharp enough to be an accountant or a school teacher, but not a high-powered senior partner of a law firm. Who wants a woman whose prestige is higher than yours, anyway?

LOL. It's obvious that you are not married. The best bet is to go with a girl who is about as smart as you are. Else, you will be bored to death in no time. Really, significant difference in spousal IQ (and I'd say 0.5SD starts to matter) creates all sort of marital problems.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder whether dumber people may have a harder time understanding that their GSS infidelity confession really is going to stay private. Therefore I wonder if smarter people may be more likely to fess up."

Interesting. I used to know someone who worked for social security and he said it was always the biggest tards who were most hesitant to give their SS # to access the person's information.

Vincent Ignatius said...

Marry someone who loves Jesus.

I have a fellow agnostic friend who refuses to date any girl who isn't religious. I'm beginning to think that he's on to something.

Mike Courtman said...

As well as high testosterone most of those jobs in which women are more unfaithful require a high level of extroversion.

You don't get many introverted real estate agents, regardless of their testosterone levels.

FuturePundit said...

Anonymous I, II, and III: You can choose Name/URL when making a comment and then give yourself a pseudonym. The people will be able to tell when someone is arguing with himself or someone else.

FuturePundit said...


My problem with a lot of women less intelligent than me is that they expect me to take their views seriously. I know a few who are at peace with their intellectual inferiority and they make better lovers.

But I still end up finding it handy if the woman I'm hanging out with can carry her side of an intelligent conversation.

Audacious Epigone said...


That's always a potential issue with self-reported data, but I wonder to what extent it is negated by the greater tendency for intelligent people to know what the tactful, socially acceptable answer to a question is (and thus be more likely to disingenuously give it).

Nanonymous and RP,

I have a 9/10ths ideal that I joke about striving for (though it's pretty accurate, really). Her percentile ranking on any given trait should be 9/10ths of mine. So if I'm in the 80th percentile of earning power, she's at the 72nd; if I'm at the 60th percentile of IQ, she's at the 54th, if I'm at the 90th percentile in terms of athleticism, she is at the 81st, etc. Thus we are always able to relate well, but I'm never outdone.


Re: SS#, in a somewhat similar vein, GSS interviewers are more likely to perceive dullards as hostile and impatient than sharper folks, who tend to be seen as friendly and interested in participating in the survey.

rob said...

I think daily, personal interaction with eligible men is a confounding factor. Teachers Aides are the least likely to cheat. They're probably also the least likely to encounter any dudes at work that women would want to cheat with.

Engineers are near the top of the list. Are female engineers super slutty, or are they just working in an environment full of eligible men? For the all the zeitgeisty stuff that male engineers are ugly nerdy losers, that's true compared to actors, less true when compared to janitors.

Shawn said...

The self-employed -- including any lawyers & real estate agents, set their own schedule, such as when and if they work. There is no accountability to anyone else so it's easy to lie about messing around.

Peter said...

I'm surprised to see real estate agents on top of the list. While it's a female-dominated field, for the most part the women are middle-aged or older ... not what you'd expect from cheaters.

Audacious Epigone said...


Keep in mind the question is whether or not women have ever cheated, not whether or not they are currently cheating at the time of the GSS interview.

Bob said...

Teachers are paranoid. Whenever they go out they're always running into someone who knows them.

I bet if you did a crosstab of occupation by location you'd find almost no cheating teachers in rural areas.

I'm married to one.