"With women, they were less likely to engage in infidelity the less money they make relative to their husband," said study author Christin Munsch
"But for men, the less money you make relative to your spouse, the more likely you are to engage in infidelity."
Munsch, a graduate student at Cornell University, said she came up with the idea of studying the effects of income on infidelity after hearing from a friend who has cheated on his partner.
made all the money, she
had all the friends, and he'd moved up there to be with her
felt completely powerless."
While there's been previous research into infidelity, it didn't look into differences in income among couples, Munsch
examined the results of a national survey that tracked 9,000 people beginning in 1997 when they were children.
focused on the results of the survey from 2001-2007, when the participants were between 17 and 27 years old.
The findings are scheduled to be released Monday at the American Sociological Association
annual meeting in Atlanta.
found that almost 7 percent of the men reported having sex outside their relationships between 2002 and 2007, while about 3 percent of women did.
Black and Hispanic men were more likely than white men to have fooled around.
Two lifestyle factors, higher education and regular religious observance, seem to help keep infidelity at bay for both men and women, the study found.
But factors having to do with money -- such as the man making more or less than his
wife or female partner -- did increase the risk of infidelity, Munsch
cautioned that "we're talking about very small numbers."
If you're a woman and "you make more money than your partner, your partner isn't 100 percent likely to cheat," she
Still, money appeared to be a significant factor.
Men who make less than their wives may lean toward infidelity because they feel a "gender identity threat," Munsch
"The range of acceptable behaviors for men is a lot narrower" when it comes to dynamics in a relationship, such as those involving finances, she
"If you work long hours and have more disposable income, it's easier to hide infidelity," Munsch
For example, unusual expenses charged to credit cards might go unnoticed.
said, people who make more money may also travel frequently and meet lots of people of the opposite sex.
SOURCES: Christin Munsch, graduate student, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.; Helen Fisher, Ph.D., research professor, department of anthropology, Rutgers University, New York City; Aug. 16, 2010, presentation, American Sociological Association, annual meeting, Atlanta