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Medicine Idle

One Night Stands May Be Genetic 240

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-in-your-genes dept.
An anonymous reader writes "So, he or she has cheated on you for the umpteenth time and their only excuse is: 'I just can't help it.' According to researchers at Binghamton University, they may be right. The propensity for infidelity could very well be in their DNA. In a first of its kind study, a team of investigators led by Justin Garcia, a SUNY Doctoral Diversity Fellow in the laboratory of evolutionary anthropology and health at Binghamton University, State University of New York, has taken a broad look at sexual behavior, matching choices with genes and has come up with a new theory on what makes humans 'tick' when it comes to sexual activity. The biggest culprit seems to be the dopamine receptor D4 polymorphism, or DRD4 gene. Already linked to sensation-seeking behavior such as alcohol use and gambling, DRD4 is known to influence the brain's chemistry and subsequently, an individual's behavior."
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One Night Stands May Be Genetic

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  • by cgomezr (1074699) on Monday December 06, 2010 @04:53PM (#34464626)

    I just can't help it.

    • Tell me, is it also normal for all your one night stands to take $400 out of your wallet as they sneak out of the room when you're in the shower? Because that always happens to me. ;(
    • by jayme0227 (1558821) on Monday December 06, 2010 @05:21PM (#34465148) Journal

      So, he or she has cheated on you for the umpteenth time and their only excuse is: 'I just can't help it.'

      If he or she is getting anywhere near "the umpteenth time" it's not a them problem, it's a you problem. If it happens once, forgiveness is certainly acceptable. If it happens twice forgiveness starts to become questionable. If it happens a third time, what the hell are you still doing with this person? Send them packing for Christ's sake.

      Obviously this argument is based on the assumption that you have a moral objection to your significant other sleeping with other people. If not, then cheerio mate, say hello to your wife for me.

      • by Coren22 (1625475)

        This is why I am divorced. I can forgive once, but any more then that shows a lack of respect for me (and our children) I now have the kids, house, and child support, and she has her new husband. All this in a state that usually shafts the man.

        • by rolfwind (528248)

          I can forgive once, but any more then that shows a lack of respect for me...

          It's not a diet, once already shows a lack of respect.

      • by rolfwind (528248)

        If it happens once, forgiveness is certainly acceptable...

        Why do so many people say that? In essence you're saying once is okay.

        I've dumped women over once. I have no regrets, I hold myself to the same standard. It's certainly not hard to adhere to unless you're actively looking.

        If they do it once, it already shows a lack of respect and you're always left wondering. Screw that. I'm not that open-minded or forgiveness oriented.

        • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday December 06, 2010 @08:05PM (#34467630) Homepage

          Why do so many people say that? In essence you're saying once is okay.

          No, they're saying once is within the realm of reason to forgive someone that you really love and want to stay with.

          They aren't saying cheating once is acceptable, they are saying forgiving once is acceptable. As in, they can accept someone forgiving their SO for cheating, once. And forgiving the great disrespect that cheating shows is not easy, and is not in any way saying it's "okay".

          I've dumped women over once.... Screw that. I'm not that open-minded or forgiveness oriented.

          You might feel differently if you weren't just dumping a girlfriend, but rather divorcing a wife and mother of your kids who you fully intended to spend the rest of time with and otherwise love with all your heart.

          Or not. Maybe that's what you meant by 'dumped'. That's fine. But not everyone feels that way. Some people really do feel it's worth giving someone they love the chance to re-earn the lost trust and to show that they have changed.

          And I can readily sympathize. But once the event repeats, and they demonstrate that they aren't going to change and once again violate trust before it is even re-earned, then it becomes quite hard to justify.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday December 06, 2010 @04:54PM (#34464632)
    Somehow telling my wife, "Hey, it's in my DNA, I just can't help it!" doesn't make her any less pissed off...

    And actually, these are very desirable genes, since they apparently also make you a world class football player, basketball player, soccer star, or golfer!
    • It seems like it would be the opposite, since as a strong male with leadership traits the women would naturally flock to you, whereas a male that needs to seek out lots and lots of mates would typically be one that women wouldn't naturally be drawn to as a "good match". Of course, maybe what we're seeing there is just the natural tendency to say "yes" as a desirable man when lots of women desire it.

      Of course, you still have a damn brain, so "my genetics told me too" is never a good excuse.

      • by robot256 (1635039)

        Evolutionarily, if lots of women want to have sex with you it would be stupid to say no. Some of them will manage to raise your children, and you won't have to do any of the work! Nevermind that it's her second (more reliable) husband that actually helps raise the kid, or else he/she grows up without the benefit of a father. But all in all seems like a good deal, as long as there are enough responsible guys around to pick up the slack.

        I think they've seen a similar kind of behavior in this one kind of l

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mrxak (727974)

          I'm really unsurprised infidelity is a genetic thing. Is anyone? Guys who sleep around, have more kids. More kids means the same genes get spread around. I find it hard to believe anybody bothered to do a study on something so clear and logical, but I suppose even the most blatantly obvious of hypotheses need to be tested under the scientific method by somebody.

          • But I question whether those who sleep around and have more children have "better" genes. I want intelligent folks with hardy physical traits having offspring, not Cletus.

            • Depends what criteria you're applying as "better". Nature tends to assign the ability to spread and recreate a higher value than objective strength or intelligence.

              • In a habitat where welfare cheques are available, being virile and irresponsible could be considered a genetic advantage. Strength and intelligence are only advantageous if there's any real fights to win. Individuals in a zoo only need to be cute and reproductive.

                Have many surviving offspring: check.
                Have many surviving offspring reproduce: check.
                Have many surviving offspring have surviving offspring themselves: check, check and cheque.

                Anyone who doesn't impregnate any fertile female he can find isn't taking

                • by Chris Burke (6130)

                  We -- and this gene -- evolved in a welfare-free environment. So you might want to check your assumptions that "irresponsible virility" is only a survival trait in this "historically unique" environment, and the assumption that once the environment changes, we'd be worse off for having everyone who had at some point been on welfare in the gene pool.

          • by c6gunner (950153)

            Guys who sleep around, have more kids

            Depends. Guys who try to screw the alpha-males women tend to end up performing autofellatio after he's done with them. Group dynamics in general, and sexual dynamics in particular, tend to vary wildly between species. For instance, wolf packs only allows two individuals to mate at any one time - the "breeding pair", who are usually the leader(s) of the pack. We've observed subordinate male wolves getting their asses kicked by the entire pack after attempting to do the hanky-panky when it wasn't their tu

        • by vux984 (928602)

          Evolutionarily, if lots of women want to have sex with you it would be stupid to say no.

          See Idiocracy if you haven't. Evolution favors successful reproduction and little else.

          Setting aside the fate of the species... their are numerous species that reproduce and then die, or are killed by their mates. It would be "stupid to say no" to sex from a reproductive standpoint, but what about from a "quality of life" standpoint. Humans have a bit more freedom, but "stupid to say no" does jack up your odds of picking

      • by LocalH (28506)

        Of course, you still have a damn brain, so "my genetics told me too" is never a good excuse.

        I don't think that's what this points to, I think this merely says that genetics can cause an almost irresistible, sometimes overriding urge to do something in a certain way (or to do something at all). Of course, this then touches on a society that wants to pretend like the human brain is perfect and clearly if someone does something "wrong" or "inappropriate", it's caused by them simply not giving a fuck, and can not be influence by how their brain internally operates on a subconscious level.

        • by c6gunner (950153)

          Of course, this then touches on a society that wants to pretend like the human brain is perfect and clearly if someone does something "wrong" or "inappropriate", it's caused by them simply not giving a fuck, and can not be influence by how their brain internally operates on a subconscious level.

          Strawman. Our society is perfectly aware that brain-states influence behavior. We just don't think that the proper response to a serial child-rapist-and-murderer is "Oh, well, that's ok then. Carry on!".

      • by jimicus (737525)

        There's already some evidence to suggest that what a woman is looking for in the man who brings up her kids and what a woman looks for in the man who's their biological father are two different things.

    • by thynk (653762)

      So... is there a test that can be performed in the field to see if the subject has this specific gene combo? Say something you could add to a drink (or spike the bars ice supply with) that would react and turn the drink blue to identify the trait and safe the rest of us guys a few hours of effort? I suppose you could also market the test to couples thinking of an exclusive relationship.

      Just thinking out loud, ignore me.

    • by ozbird (127571)

      And actually, these are very desirable genes, since they apparently also make you a world class football player, basketball player, soccer star, or golfer!

      Or earn you a place on an Interpol wanted list [interpol.int].

    • by nido (102070)

      Somehow telling my wife, "Hey, it's in my DNA, I just can't help it!" doesn't make her any less pissed off.

      Sometimes you tell the wife, sometimes you don't. My ex-wife has done a lot of research into sex, and shares tidbits with me. She says people with polyamorous relationships tend to live longer....

      When my divorce was almost finalized, she told me to go away for a week so she could work on her Energy Viagra [energyviag...ingsex.com] project. As I was going out the door, she said, "go find yourself a sweet woman." I wasn't expecting to be successful, but a couple hours later my phone rang...

      Anyways, after I got back a couple days late

      • by c6gunner (950153)

        That was the slickest V1aGr4 spam-advertisement I've ever seen!

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Somehow telling my wife, "Hey, it's in my DNA, I just can't help it!" doesn't make her any less pissed off...

      Yeah, she was telling me all about it yesterday while you were at work!

  • From my experience it must run in the y chromosome.
    • Sexist. Perhaps it's X-recessive?
    • not really.
      for a surprisingly large percentage of children daddy isn't really the daddy.

      As the reproductive biologist Jack Cohen said
      "women 'sin downwards' for sex and 'sin upwards in status' for having children"

      ie: marry upwards but have sex with the hot delivery guy.

      both sexes do it plenty.

  • Hang out at casino bars more often.

  • by MintOreo (1849326)
    Spoiler alert! Every thing is genetic.

    Everything everyone has ever done was determined by their genetics; that doesn't make infidelity less despicable.
    • You're absolutely right! After hearing this I'm just going to sit at home and let my genes do all the work.

    • by spun (1352)

      No, everything is a mixture of genetics and environment. How our genes are expressed is determined by our environment. Infidelity itself is not despicable, deceit is despicable. Not every committed relationship is monogamous.

      • by MintOreo (1849326)
        And how you respond to these environments is purely genetic. The real question is what genetic determinations are more ductile to environmental influences.

        Infidelity is despicable (obviously subjective), as it is deceit. Infidelity is being unfaithful- if your contract never included sexual exclusivity then not being exclusive isn't infidelity.
        • by spun (1352)

          How you initially respond may be genetic, and there will always be a genetic component to your response, but culture plays a huge role. For instance, I choose to use a condom. Is choosing to use a condom genetic? It can't be, condoms are too recent for us to have evolved any sort of genetic response to them. You could say the safety/risk weighting factors are genetic, and my choice to play it safe or risky is genetic, but my specific choice to use an actual condom is cultural more than it is genetic.

          It basi

          • by Nutria (679911)

            It basically sounds like you are discounting the idea of learned behaviors, which is a fairly outlandish stance to take.

            And don't forget that hormones regulate how genes are expressed.

            Within a generation, we're going to see whether homosexuality is purely genetic or mostly hormonal.

    • by ebuck (585470)

      Spoiler alert! Every thing is genetic. Everything everyone has ever done was determined by their genetics; that doesn't make infidelity less despicable.

      Yeah, I can't wait till they find the gene therapy cure for starvation.

      Just because Genetics has the promise to deliver a lot doesn't mean that everything is genetic. There's still a big bad environment out there, and I don't see a "hit by a car" gene or "poisoned by industrial waste" gene working its way into DNA anytime soon.

      • by russotto (537200)

        Just because Genetics has the promise to deliver a lot doesn't mean that everything is genetic. There's still a big bad environment out there, and I don't see a "hit by a car" gene or "poisoned by industrial waste" gene working its way into DNA anytime soon.

        Tell it to Teela Brown.

    • by Surt (22457)

      Some would argue that there is a memetic component not determined by genes.

      And most would argue that if a behavior is truly genetically determined, such that you literally cannot choose otherwise, it would in fact make infidelity less despicable.

      • by Nethead (1563)

        And most would argue that if a behavior is truly genetically determined, such that you literally cannot choose otherwise, it would in fact make infidelity less despicable.

        And punishment unethical.

        • by Surt (22457)

          Unless of course punishment is also genetically determined, obviously. ;-)

    • by LocalH (28506)

      It also doesn't mean that certain constructs in society that try to turn everything "natural" into something that needs to be stopped, should be propped up by those with a view towards tradition.

      I'm not necessarily saying infidelity is GOOD, in the sense that people should unilaterally accept it and if they don't, there's something wrong with them. What I am saying is that it's for each individual person to determine where they stand on such an issue, and then seek out a partner that shares that (or at leas

    • by mark-t (151149)
      So everybody who died without ever having any children only didn't have them because their parents didn't?
  • The reward system combined with a propensity toward addiction makes the behavior addictive.

  • Research suggests one-night stands are responsible for new genetics.
  • This provides an interesting physiological backstory to the evolutionary equilibrium between R versus K mating behavior.

    R == cuckoo behavior, impregnate as many females as possible; K == hang around and diligently raise your (or the cuckoo's) young. It is a biological free-rider problem.

  • by natehoy (1608657) on Monday December 06, 2010 @05:17PM (#34465070) Journal

    Are you saying that people can't keep it in their jeans because it's in their genes?

  • Leave it to a slashdot editor (you know, the whole never getting laid thing) to confuse "one night stand" and "infidelity."
  • ... their only excuse is: 'I just can't help it.' According to researchers at Binghamton University, they may be right. The propensity for infidelity could very well be in their DNA.

    Yes, yes and one day we will develop big brains that will allow us to control our base urges and rise above being mere animals. And, yes, I have friends who are recovering alcoholics, so I'm sympathetic to the underlying issue. Still, poor impulse control is what usually gets you into the trouble you can't handle...

    • by LocalH (28506)

      Yes, yes and one day we will develop big brains that will allow us to control our base urges and rise above being mere animals.

      The hell we will. Half of society is intent on making sure that natural selection and microevolution are denied influence on the human race. It's my understanding that currently, our brains are actually shrinking (whether that's good or bad however seems to be up in the air).

  • by tsa (15680)

    Since when is it news that something may be the case? It's like saying: you know, the fact that you fuck around so much may be genetic but it may also be because you just don't know what you like in a woman yet, or you you might be a sex addict, or you are a teenager or you get horny every time you see your middle finger, or you just don't know anything better to do with your life.

  • It seems to me that it's simply another example of positive emotional feedback. Humans seem to have quite a tendency to get addicted to anything that feels good, or at least feels good to that particular individual. That seems to be where the distinction lies. I suppose most people tend to gravitate towards something that requires less effort, alcohol or drugs. But there are people truly addicted to things like work or exercise. I know of exercise fanatics who've had their spouse leave them because they wer

  • by Khopesh (112447) on Monday December 06, 2010 @05:26PM (#34465226) Homepage Journal

    The media does not understand basic research [phdcomics.com]. In this case, we see its obsession of finding genes for behaviors; it almost never works that way.

    Genes aren't smartphone apps; you can't just say "there's a gene for that."

    Genes are more akin to code than to building blocks. A gene is more like a function than it is like a brick or mortar, and we have very little understanding of how genes interact with each other.

    I'd like to give a "bravo!" to the authors for making the paper an open-access journal article. I know that's a hard sell to publishers. The full paper [plosone.org] is available to all without registration.

    The paper itself explains the high chance that this is overblown:

    It is also important to sound several notes of caution. First, a consistent challenge in genetic association studies are that of third variable confounds, or unmeasured variables that are causally responsible for the observed finding but are associated with the measured variables thus generating a spurious association. ...

    • Media reports also love to conflate "we've uncovered the root cause of X to be Y" with "X is not the person's fault--it's the fault of Y".

      The problem with this logic is that, unless you believe in the supernatural (e.g. souls), every single action a person takes is ultimately understandable in terms of causative factors (genetics, childhood, upbringing, opportunity, diet, exercise, lifestyle, job, friends, etc.). This is just a generalization of our understanding that everything in the universe has a cau
  • I told her to get off the dopamine but she just couldn't put it down. I came home one day and her bags were all packed. She was off to hollywood to get herself jacked....up on that dopamine I know that for sure. Well the last I heard of her she was strung out on the floor... givin her all for dopamine you know that's for sure..(insert cheesy 70's country song here)
  • So this means that if you have a one night stand with someone, it might be worth having a bit of a go with their sister - or mother - or daughter? [Change to our preferred genders as appropriate]

  • by cerberusss (660701) on Monday December 06, 2010 @05:42PM (#34465512) Homepage Journal

    As a male, I really like how the summary starts with "He or she has cheated". It doesn't paint infidelity as a typical male thing. I'm sick of the rosy picture in which this society paints our women. The most conservative statistics say that close to 50% of females admit to sexual infidelity [psychologytoday.com]. And yes, women are horny and have fun but not with their partner [psychologytoday.com] although in a different way from men, and yes, women frequently strike out at their partners, and not simply in self-defense; in 24% of violent American marriages, the woman is the only abuser [psychologytoday.com]. I vividly remember the Teen mom lashing out [mtv.com] episode of the MTV show Teen Mom, where she throws a few jabs and a right hook in her boyfriend's face.

    They're humans, just like men.

  • hay baby come to butthead it's genetic or something

  • by GMC-jimmy (243376) on Monday December 06, 2010 @06:10PM (#34465834) Homepage

    "I can't help it." usually equates to "I have no self-discipline." The longer that fact goes ignored, the worse it becomes. Very few things are truly involuntary. Such as projectile vomiting.

    • Exactly. What makes us human is our ability to make choices that override our animal impulses. Good examples include religious fasting, dying for a cause, and extreme sports. But don't tell that to a sociologist; according to them, our environment and genes mold us into what we are and there's nothing we can do about it. Leave it to the irrational to rationalize a theory that humans can't rationalize.

  • If males and females were sexually monogomous, they would run the risk that their mate was infertile, or shared the same recessive gene with them; and they would eventually be replaced by whichever members of the species were inclined to sort of hedge their genetic bets.

    That's also why males and females react differently to perceived evidence of sexual infidelity. When a male cheats, the risk to the female is primarily that he'll find his "fling" to be preferable and pair bond with her - thus abandoning the

  • Duh. I thought we'd already figured this out.
    The whole point of the species is to continue the species. It stands to reason that some people would be wired to go out and spread their DNA as much as possible to help it continue.

  • GM: Roll 1d4 for Save vs. One Night Stand.

    Player: Hey, why would I want to save vs. That

    GM: Ok, don't say I didn't warn you.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday December 06, 2010 @07:50PM (#34467400) Homepage Journal

    Plenty of people don't have any longterm commitment to a sexual partner, especially when they're young. Some of them have one night stands. Some are celibate between longer (than one night) term exclusive relationships. But probably most of them have one night stands. That's not infidelity.

    Nor is it genetic. One night stands are mostly determined by what the other partners want or are willing to accept from the person, not the person's own genetics.

    An interest in fidelity or infidelity might be genetic, but of course the other people have a lot do do with it.

    Once again, a very narrow set of new and interesting data about genes is exaggerated to say something wrong about broad human behavior.

In specifications, Murphy's Law supersedes Ohm's.

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