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One Facial Characteristic Can Predict a Cheating Spouse, Study Suggests

Still, your bone structure is still no excuse for your, well, other bone structure.

Cheaters beware — scientists have blown your cover, and revealed that your infidelity is all over your relatively wide-set faces. That’s right — men with short, wide faces (“high facial width-to-height-ratios”, or FWHRs) have bigger libidos, more casual attitudes about sex, and are more likely to step out on their partners, according to a new study in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.

The study, of course, begs several questions (not the least of which being, what’s Kevin Hart’s excuse?) But the authors stand by their work. “Facial characteristics might convey important information about human sexual motivations,” said study co-author Steven Arnocky, in a statement.

This isn’t the first study to bash round faces. In the past, researchers have found links between FWHR and aggression, unethical behavior, prejudice, and psychopathic traits. So really, the suggestion that wide-faced men have huge sex drives and occasionally sneak around is complimentary by comparison. Scientists have suggested that this can be traced backed to exposure to testosterone in the womb, which influences how the male face develops — and can increase libidos, sociosexuality, and infidelity. It’s a perfect storm that might explain why literal blockheads are sort of aphrodisiacs.

It also is a fairly dubious claim — and a large body evidence has called the association between face shape and aggressive behavior into question. One 2013 study of 5,000 faces, published in PLOS One and “based on craniofacial measurements and 2D and 3D cranial landmark coordinates” found no link between FWHR and behavior. In other words, when scientists measure faces correctly and use large sample sizes, purported face shape-based effects tend to fall away. Besides, the implication that we can measure a face to determine sexual deviance smacks dangerously of eugenics, a discredited field of study that used non-Caucasian skull measurements to justify discrimination against African Americans. “The social and political implications that this kind of non-contrasted adaptive hypotheses could have may increase racial prejudices, discrimination, and intolerance,” they write.

In any case, Arnocky and his team set out to test the hypothesis on 145 undergrads. They asked about their sex drives and interpersonal behaviors, and snapped photos of their faces. Results revealed that high FWHR was positively correlated with a higher sex drive in both men and women, providing “the first evidence implicating FWHR in relation with women’s sexual psychology,” Arnocky writes.

Then, the researchers asked 314 students to complete questionnaires about their sexual behaviors, chances of considering infidelity, and how comfortable they were with casual sex. Here, they found that men with FWHR shined — they not only had higher sex drives, but also more casual attitudes toward sex without commitment and the idea of cheating on their significant others. 

Of course, the findings come with clear caveats, beyond the aforementioned FWHR debunks. All sexual behaviors were self-reported (and nobody tells the truth about sex) and the subjects were college students who typically have higher sex drives and chiller attitudes toward casual sex and cheating. “Early adulthood represents a period of elevated sexual interest in men and women,” Arnocky and colleagues write. “Future research would benefit from exploring whether these effects can be detected in adolescence, and whether they remain throughout adulthood.”

Anyway, none of this is cause to celebrate your thin, loyal face, or shrug off your baser tendencies because fate made your face too wide. Take the data with a grain of salt. Even if the study does turn out to be reproducible (which seems highly doubtful) and you happen to have a severe case of cheat-face, remember this: your bone structure is still never an excuse for your, well, other bone structure.