Smart educated men less likely to think cheating always wrong

By Razib Khan | July 28, 2011 10:44 am

Lots of commentary below on my post about extramarital sex. I guess that’s fine, but I’m really not too interested your theories, I can do basic logic after introspection too. In fact, I can go down the street and ask a random person and I’m sure they could offer up after the fact rationales for the results I reported (people are always interested in sex and sharp about models to explain it). Instead, here’s the variable you need to use in the GSS: XMARSEX. I assume forms and graphical user interfaces worthy of 1997 are not too intimidating to readers of this weblog even if they perplex Matt Yglesias?

In any case, here’s some more results. First, I wanted to double check that there was in fact decreased tolerance of extramarital sex over the years. Let’s break it down by sex:

Some of you were curious about the demographic correlates of this behavior. Please note that all the following charts are limited to the year 2000 and later. The sample sizes for XMARSEX were rather large, so I saw no reason not to make it relevant to contemporary attitudes.

Next, what are the sex differences in attitudes?

It looks me to that there’s a divergence among smart and educated individuals. WORDSUM 9 and 10 is the top 10% in the data set (WORDSUM has an 0.70 correlation with IQ). But that’s a small segment of the population. I did a logistic regression where I picked categorical values which were ordinal (e.g., political ideology goes from most liberal to least on a six point scale). After performing the analysis I will tell you that when you account for very powerful predictors like Biblical literalism there doesn’t seem to be much sex difference on this issue. In other words it may be that the sex difference in the aggregate sample is largely a function of the demographic differences between males and females. But I don’t think this necessarily explains the gap at the very smart and educated segment, which are a small elite slice. Nevertheless this is the slice which is represented among pundits (in theory) and readers of this weblog.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Data Analysis
MORE ABOUT: Extramarital sex, GSS

Comments (13)

  1. Khadijah

    Smart men think that they’re doing a world a favor by contributing their genes to larger group of women, spreading them, thus thinking cheating is a little less wrong.

  2. I would think that graduate school ideology is the reverse of “word of God” Protestantism. Graduate education in the liberal arts is certainly rife with Marxist and feminist anti-traditional family ideas. Plus, really how smart are most people who receive graduate degrees such as teaching credentials anyway? They would be more susceptible to the faculty propagandizing of the reigning ideologies.

  3. Miley Cyrax

    @ 1

    Yeah, I am but doing humankind a favor when I maximize my polygynous ventures. I am an altruistic philanthropist at heart.

  4. think before you leave a comment, otherwise i’ll close this.

    #1, fyi, last i checked educated men have fewer sexual partners.

    #2, so by your logic women are more immune to ideological brainwashing? interesting. you could actually go into the GSS and check some of your assertions, but i doubt you will.

  5. John Emerson

    Skatr: People who get the more difficult academic degrees are generally more liberal than those who get the less difficult teaching or nursing degrees, in part because the latter are more often religious.

  6. Miley Cyrax

    @ 6, David M Shor

    You might be right about the uber-feminist critical theorist cultural trope. However, at a lot of colleges, cultural studies courses are included in the general prerequisites to get an undergraduate degree in any subject. So the attempt at PC brain-washing (mostly excuse-making for underachieving populations in various venues and blaming everything on white men) is bundled with an undergrad degree.

    I enjoyed my particular experience with various cultural studies classes as they were easy A’s (just parroted back keywords and quotes from worshiped authors on essays and tests) and they were settings in which to make sanctimonious PC leftist professors and students feel uncomfortable.

    Plus they had better guy: girl ratios than did my quantitative and business courses.

  7. Clark

    Too bad the data only goes back to 1973. It’d be interesting to see if this is an increase or if instead there was just an unusual dip in the late 60’s through early 70’s corresponding to the sexual revolution. Of course for various reasons tied to social perceptions of sexual questions I’m not sure I’d trust data prior to the 70’s…

    I wonder if there’s a good measure to test ethical relativism. It seems to me that Biblical literalism tends to reject relativism but there are plenty of non-literalists who reject relativism too. I also think relativism tends to cross political boundaries. i.e. there are conservatives who take a way of reading Leo Strauss that I’d call relativists and there are of course the academic “pomos” (hate that term) that are liberal. But obviously there are plenty of liberals and conservatives (especially among activists) who seem to have strong views of right and wrong.

    It’d also be interesting to see if we could tease out more libertarian views on this (or Randian) versus the relativists.

  8. Clark

    BTW – the most interesting bit in that chart is the difference between atheists and agnostics. It makes sense when I think about it. To say one is an atheist rather than an agnostic requires a level of certainty towards ones beliefs. If there was a way to tease out relativism I’d lay good odds more agnostics are relativists than atheists are.

  9. Miguel Madeira

    It will be interesting to have an “extramarital sex always wrong by demographic in 1973” graphic; of course (being a Portuguese) I don’t know much about American cultural trends, but my bet is that the great change was “social conservatives” abandoning the classical “there is not much problem in extra-marital sex if it is discret and the couple stays together” by some kind of “extra-marital sex is a great sin and a sign of the decandence of our times”.

  10. Arthor

    Smart educated males are more likely to have better seed and are thus more likely to have faithful spouses, and more incentive to have children outside of marriage. Uneducated men generally will be wary of the prospect of raising another man’s baby if his spouse goes outside of the marriage, and will be more protective of their spouses, discouraging extramarital sex in any way possible including intimidation and violence in some cases.

  11. Smart educated males are more likely to have better seed and are thus more likely to have faithful spouses, and more incentive to have children outside of marriage

    are you will to bet that you have fewer de novo mutations than the median? how about you send a sample to don conrad at st. louis for analysis, and we bet $500 dollars on your mutational load being more than 1 standard deviation better than the average?

  12. Miley Cyrax

    @12, Razib Khan

    That’s my new pickup line. “Sup baby, would you like to sample my mutational load? I’ll pay you $500 if it’s not more than 1 standard deviation better than the average.”

  13. Arthor

    Razib, when did this become about me? I’m a diabetic with symptoms of personality disorders, I would never even try a sperm bank for example. And I don’t even know what a de novo mutation is (“de novo” meaning a mutation generated on my generation and not inherited? My apologies, I’m a lay person not a scientist). I’m just applying the little bit of reading I’ve done in evolutionary biology. Maybe the tone in which I wrote my comment was inappropriately confident but I don’t think that’s any reason to insult my zygotes, dude


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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