CAN A BRAIN SCAN REVEAL IF YOU'RE A CHEATER?

Q:
I've heard there are tests now that you can take, like blood tests and brain scans, that will tell you if your partner is, or could, cheat on you....is this really true? Where can I do this test because I want to have my fianc tested before we get married. I couldnt handle being cheated on, so if theres a way to know, then I want to know!
A:
I'm sorry to disappoint you, but there isn't a test for fidelity that you can just trot down to your local GP's office to determine if you're in a relationship with a loyal partner or a cheater ... or at least, not yet. But youre right that there are some tests for fidelity, but at the moment the research is still in the very early stages so these tests are not reliable. They certainly hold some potential, though. You mention brain scans, and yes, there is research using brain scans to tell whether a person might be inclined to cheat. The scan research looks at activity in areas of the brain responsible for things like impulsivity and whether a person could be more at risk for being impulsive, for example, but a scan like that doesn't predict behaviour or determine whether someone who is impulsive might be inclined to necessarily cheat. Really, our behaviour is determined far more by our values and choices in life, than our biology. What we can say, though, is that we are learning more and more about the brain, through scans, and while we aren't purely biologically driven creatures, we certainly are influenced by our brain. Further research on the brain shows that when we fall in love and are deeply in love, areas of the brain that control attachment and the reward systems light up like a Christmas tree. Even scans on heartbroken individuals reveal that their brain areas that deal with obsession and craving become supercharged so to speak. But again, these scans reveal information about ourselves, and what we may be predisposed to, rather than tell us what we absolutely would do in our lives. So in that sense, no, these are not (yet) reliable tests.

There is also what's now known as the "fidelity gene" and many, like you, wonder how they can be tested to see if they have that. In a nutshell, this "fidelity gene" can't predict whether someone will cheat either. Really it would be more accurate to label this gene the "bonding gene" because it doesn't tell us whether we'll be faithful, but more our ability to stay bonded with a partner for a lifetime. If a person has a pair of the genes, they will be more likely to feel intense bonding with their partner, and therefore more likely to feel close, intimate, and weather the storms of a long-term relationship. It doesn't prescribe someone to be loyal or prevent them from cheating, but it does help a relationship if both partners carry the pair of bonding genes. Certainly it would be reasonable to say that people who split easily or have multiple and serial relationships probably dont have the bonding gene ... but having said that, we override our genes every day if we want to, and make the choice in our life, for better or worse.

Hormones also play a part in potentially determining fidelity. We know that people (women too, not just men) who have higher levels of testosterone tend to have higher sex drives, think about sex more often, have "sex on the brain" more, and therefore may be more likely to be tempted into straying (though again, that's not determined except by personal circumstance, choice and behaviour). And those who have lower levels of testosterone and higher levels of vasopressin may be more likely to stay bonded to their partner.

So the question isn't: will my partner cheat on me, the question is: how bonded are my partner and I? And while we don't have definitive tests for that right now, it looks like we will in the not too distant future. Until brain scans and gene tests are reliable, your decision to marry your fianc has to come from your heart and your head and trust that more than any science.

Comments

I don't believe this technology is accurate. It seems that the brain is still largely a mystery. This is just another example of American scientists trying to turn a profit from nothing.
Posted by B Mobile on June 2, 2010, 5:13 am.
 

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