An article in Psychology Today suggests that spouses who stray in their marriages may have “divorce genes”. Researchers studying the biology of “faithfulness” in relationships reveal that less than five per cent of mammals are monogamous. By examining the behavior of prairie voles (similar to field mice), who are part of the group of monogamous mammals, scientists have discovered that these animals have hormones and protein characteristics that promote monogamy. That is, the prairie vole’s genetic makeup produces happiness in monogamy. The prairie vole’s cousin, the meadow vole, does not share this genetic makeup and is a mammal that does not practice monogamy.
To prove their point, researchers in Atlanta, Georgia are altering the genetic makeup of prairie voles to determine if an elimination or reduction of certain hormone receptors and protein will result in prairie voles who do not mate with one life-time partner. The reason for this research is to determine if the DNA of humans plays a factor in whether they will remain faithful to their spouses.
The lab results seem to indicate that genetics is related to fidelity in the same way family values are. If the ongoing studies confirm their theory, then scientists can create medications to deal with the biological reasons for infidelity, just as they treat depression, diabetes and other conditions.
Query whether this is just an excuse for philanderers who can say that their behavior is out of their control, that it is part of their DNA? Sounds like an awfully convenient excuse to me and I’m not buying it!