If You Knew Someone Was Being Cheated on — Would You Tell Them?

If you happen to be a psychologist who studies sex and relationships, you get to go around asking nosy questions, such as: If you found out that someone was cheating, would you tell their partner? In a study recently highlighted by Justin Lehmiller, a science writer and social psychologist, researchers asked participants exactly that.

If you are not a psychology researcher but you are a nosy person, perhaps you’d like to know what they found. Some of their results were rather obvious: If their close friend was being cheated on, they were more likely to tell that person than if it was their close friend who was doing the cheating. But other aspects of the infidelity affected their decision, too. Lehmiller explains:

[P]eople were more inclined to expose cheating when the cheater’s relationship was on the brink of a major transition (e.g., if they were getting engaged), when the cheating behavior was ongoing (i.e., not a one-time thing), and when the third party was known to be carrying a sexually transmitted infection.

As usual, more research is needed before any definite conclusions can be drawn here; Lehmiller calls it a “preliminary” look at the way people decide whether or not to get involved in someone else’s business. Relevant research for busybodies everywhere.

If You Knew Someone Was Being Cheated on, Would You Tell?