If you have a slightly slutty side, it may not be your fault. According to a recent study, there’s a chance that your promiscuity could be largely due to genetics. Wolfgang Forstmeier and other researchers studied the mating habits of five generations of zebra finches, a bird known to have the same type of monogamous relationships as humans.
Findings showed that finch offsprings whose parents weren’t monogamous were more likely to become promiscuous adults.
Now, we have to remember that Forstmeier is comparing humans to birds, so this particular study should probably be taken with a grain of salt. But there have been numerous other studies that can actually trace a specific thrill-seeking gene in humans, not birds, to promiscuity and cheating.
Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York found that half of all people with the dopamine receptor D4 polymorphism (DRD4 gene) are more vulnerable to having casual sex or being unfaithful. DRD4 is also linked to “sensation-seeking behavior such as alcohol use and gambling.” According to lead researcher Justin Garcia,
“The motivation seems to stem from a system of pleasure and reward, which is where the release of dopamine comes in. In cases of uncommitted sex, the risks are high, the rewards substantial and the motivation variable all elements that ensure a dopamine rush.”
Garcia emphasizes that not everyone with this genotype will have one-night stands or commit infidelity, but a much higher proportion of those with it are likely to engage in these behaviors. His research has some pretty eye-opening and scary implications. Most importantly, the findings take a lot of blame off of the “cheater,” almost giving them an excuse.
But the point I find most interesting is that we can no longer assume someone’s “loose” behavior is indicative of the type of relationship he/she is seeking. The guy you like may be sleeping around and not seem like he wants to commit, but that may not necessarily be the case. Maybe he’s looking for a long-term relationship, but genetically can’t help being promiscuous.