When it comes to this unfortunate side of human relationships and social psychology, we all like to believe that we are amazing at detecting deception, lies and any manipulations our loved ones could ever use against us. But it turns out in reality, all of us have been fooled once, twice or a lot more because we haven’t picked up on the signs that our partners and loved ones have been cheating on us. Therefore, this raises of the question of what are the signs of infidelity and most importantly, what are the strategies cheating people use to deceive their partners? If you’re interested in social psychology and relationships you really need to read on!
Today’s episode has been sponsored by Psychology of Relationships: The Social Psychology of Friendships, Romantic Relationships and More Fourth Edition. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.
Strategies of Deception By Apostolou et al. (2022)
A new study aims to examine these strategies and the results of Apostolou et al. (2022) are very interesting from a social psychological standpoint. Yet I will definitely admit that was a human viewpoint, these are a little sad but let’s stay on the positive notes.
Therefore, Apostolou et al. (2022) found 53 acts that people engage in to hide their cheating from their partners as well as 11 infidelity-hiding strategies that both men and women use.
Then out of these 11 strategies used by both sexes the findings show over 70% of participants were inclined to use at least seven of these. With the researchers noting that a combination of them is often needed to hide their cheating behaviour and counter their partner’s detection strategies.
In addition, in terms of detection strategies, Apostolou and Ioannidou (2021) found that people use 47 different acts to detect if their partner is cheating on them, with Apostolou et al. (2022) noting that several of these infidelity-hiding strategies are designed to counter the strategies their own partners use to detect their cheating behaviour.
And the really interesting thing about that is that in theory this sounds perfectly logical, because of course if you’re doing something wrong then you want to go out of your way to hide it. But in reality, this could actually make the cheating a lot easier to detect.
What Are The Signs of Infidelity?
Therefore, here are the top four “groups” of strategies that cheating partners use to hide their infidelity.
Firstly, the most common secret strategy to hide cheating behaviour in Apostolou et al. (2022) was the idea of “less is more” or “being discreet”. As you can imagine, this often involved meeting people in private, secluded areas and making sure that their current partner couldn’t get a hold of them. As well as Apostolou noted that using this discretion results in people wanting to avoid leaving physical evidence of the infidelity so it makes the real partners who want to spy on their cheating partner more difficult for them to do that.
Secondly, and leading on from the first group of strategies is the concept of “show me the evidence” because with the cheating partner getting rid of physical evidence, this can itself create a lot of questions. For example, I don’t know about you but I haven’t wiped my search history in years nor do I ever delete texts, so if I had a partner and they looked at my search history and all of they find I have an empty search history and I’ve deleted a lot of texts. Then I will all of a sudden look very suspicious because why has my behaviour and habits changed all of a sudden?
Or another example could be that I’ve sure that your phone is filled with photos and emails and everything else that we get constantly. Like on my phone there are massive groups of pictures in my gallery, so again, if there are suddenly large gaps in my gallery or something. Then this would look suspicious because I’m breaking my behavioural habits for seemingly no reason.
Furthermore, the next group of strategies that were third popular were termed “Stability Suppresses Suspicious” and this I think is an interesting group. Due to Apostolou noted that people use strategies to hide their cheating by “keeping the same routines” and “keeping the same behaviour”. These methods involve cheaters making an effort to avoid changing their habits, routines and attitudes towards their partners along with their appearance. And it turns out that these strategies could be very effective in real life because normally it is the changing of a person’s look or behaviour within an already established relationship that causes the other partner to become suspicious.
Finally, the fourth “group” of strategies people use to hide cheating behaviour (and this is a very dumb strategy in my opinion) is the cheater becomes suddenly smitten with their partner, and I mean seriously, that will only end up arousing suspicious but yea, it’s your relationship.
The idea behind this strategy is that cheaters try to camouflage their cheating by expressing a lot more love and interest in their partners. But as Apostolou noted, however, this strategy is very vulnerable to what we mentioned above with the “observed changes in their behaviour” because by trying to hide their cheating behaviour, the cheater might be giving us signs of their unfaithfulness.
Nonetheless, to give some credit to cheaters (and because this strategy is so flawed) Apostolou did note that this is rarely used at only 46% of people using it. Due to some partners will take this increased romantic interest as an increase in how much their partner loves them. Which is a massive shame.
Signs of Infidelity and Machiavellianism
Personally, I always love to dip into personality psychology whenever I can so for the last section of the podcast episode, I wanted to mention a little finding from Apostolou et al. (2022) concerning personality. Since the researchers found Machiavellianism, which as a reminder to everyone is described as being manipulative, exploitative and deceitful towards others is a significant predictor of infidelity. With a deceptive strategy includes directly lying to the non-cheating partner, and one manipulation strategy includes expressing love towards the non-cheating partner to assure their partner of their devotion to them, despite them cheating on the partner.
Social Psychology Conclusion
Personally I’ve rather surprised that there is a rather useful takeaway from today’s episode. Of course it’s an unofficial piece of advice but I still rather like it. Therefore, in terms of dating, it is probably best to take things slow and make sure you get to know them carefully at the beginning of a relationship, so you’re able to separate sheer attraction (because believe me I know some people are very attractive) from character (because that actually is the most important thing) so you can see the sort of people they are. And if they’re the sort of person to give you authentic adoration rather than manipulations and the other red flags that follow a lot sooner rather than later.
Because I truly don’t want that for any of you.
I really hope you enjoyed today’s biological psychology podcast episode.
If you want to learn more, please check out:
Psychology of Relationships: The Social Psychology of Friendships, Romantic Relationships and More Fourth Edition. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.
Have a great day.
Social Psychology References
Apostolou, M. (2022). Catch me if you can: Strategies for hiding infidelity. Personality and Individual Differences, 189, 111494.
Apostolou, M., & Ioannidou, M. (2021). Strategies for Detecting Infidelity: An Explorative Analysis. Evolutionary Psychological Science, 7(4), 380-389.
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