state of affairs

Humans: Impressively Skilled at Spotting Cheaters

Photo: BBC Films

New research has located a formerly not-praised skill among humans: a sick ability to recognize who is cheating on whom in a relationship.

The study published in the journal Personal Relationships comes from Brigham Young University. Scientists asked objective observers to rate couples they saw in a three- to five-minute video on their perceived fidelity. In both studies, the videos featured one person explaining to their blindfolded partner how to complete a drawing. The couples had previously completed detailed surveys about their relationships and loyalty. 

BYU psychologist Nathaniel Lambert was duly impressed. He called himself “personally amazed” that humans could recognize cheaters from just a short video. “First, I couldn’t believe how consistent the observers were with each other at independently rating who they thought were cheating on their romantic partner,” he says. “Second, I was surprised by how often they were right on the mark.”

It’s so encouraging to hear from a scientist that we are finally good at something they tested us on. Everyone is now quite ready to put their skill to good purpose — to skip down the street with pointing fingers at the ready, recognizing betrayers right, left, and center, all with great confidence their ability is backed by scientific research. 

Humans Are Great at Spotting Cheaters