Though men are almost always the perpetrators of U.S. political scandals, the urge to stray may be more tied to power than to gender. An upcoming study to be published in the journal Psychological Science finds that people with power are more likely to say they’ve cheated or indicate a desire to cheat than the average Joe. In a large, anonymous survey of 1,561 professionals, the researchers found that power is linked to confidence, and those with high confidence tend to stray. Among the powerful, gender seemed to make little difference in propensity to cheat, although with more men than women in positions of power, most adulterers were male. [Read: How To Tell If Your Partner Is Cheating]
It’s hard to measure how many people in average, nonpolitical relationships cheat, because people are motivated to lie about infidelity even on anonymous surveys. One study presented in 2010 at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Atlanta found that in a nationally representative survey, 3.8 percent of men and 1.4 percent of women indicated that they had been unfaithful. Higher earners of both genders were more likely to cheat.