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One measure of infidelity among couples is the frequency of children secretly conceived with a different partner, leading to "non-paternities".
Such covertly illegitimate children amount to about 1–2% of newborns in studied populations.
Sex ratio theory is a theory that explains the relationship and sexual dynamics within different areas of the world based on the ratio of the number of marriage-aged men to marriage-aged women.
According to this theory, an area has a high sex ratio when there is a higher number of marriage-aged women to marriage-aged men and an area has a low sex ratio when there is more marriage-aged men to marriage-aged women.
Correspondingly, monogamy and commitment are more commonplace.
On the other hand, when people live within environments that encompass little stress and threats to the viability of offspring, the need for serious and committed relations is lowered and therefore promiscuity and infidelity are more common.
In general, national surveys conducted in the early 1990s reported that between 15-25% of married Americans reported having extramarital affairs.
Treas and Giesen found that people who had stronger sexual interests, more permissive sexual values, lower subjective satisfaction with their partner, weaker network ties to their partner, and greater sexual opportunities were more likely to be unfaithful.
Frequencies as high as 30% are sometimes assumed in the media, but research Such studies show that covert illegitimacy is in fact less than 10% among the sampled African populations, less than 5% among the sampled Native American and Polynesian populations, less than 2% of the sampled Middle Eastern population, and generally 1–2% among European samples.
Support for this theory comes from evidence showing higher divorce rates in countries with lower sex ratios and higher monogamy rates in countries with higher sex ratios.
Differences in sexual infidelity as a function of gender have been commonly reported.
For example, one study found that some women in more financially independent and higher positions of power, were also more likely to be more unfaithful to their partners.
These findings suggest there may be various factors that might influence the likelihood of some individuals to engage in extradyadic relationships, and that such factors may account for observed gender differences beyond actual gender and evolutionary pressures associated with each.