Where in America Do Most the Most Cheaters Live?

Scientists have looked into what makes people stray for years, and now new research is claiming there’s another factor: geography.

A new survey of more than 2,000 people conducted by the online legal services marketplace Avvo suggests that people who live on the west coast are more likely to be cheaters.

According to survey results, 20 percent of west coasters say they’ve cheated on a partner, compared to 17 percent of southerners, 16 percent of people in the northeast, and 10 percent of Midwesterners.

Related: 6 Signs He’s Probably Cheating on You

Men were also more likely to cop to getting some on the side, with 20 percent of those surveyed saying they’ve had sex with someone who wasn’t their partner. (On the flipside, 13 percent of women said they’ve cheated.)

But let’s go back to the west coast…what’s that about? Licensed clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., says it may be more about where on the west coast most of the survey respondents lived. If people in larger cities participated, then she’s not shocked by the findings.

“These cities are filled with transplants,” she says. “The very personality traits that lead to someone relocating are likely to result in greater openness, and that can also translate into more ‘a-moral’ behaviors, such as cheating.”

Related: Should You ALWAYS Tell Your Partner if You Cheat?

She points out that L.A. in particular might have a higher-than-normal rate of cheaters since it’s a creative city that “may be more populated by those higher in the trait of openness, which may be more likely to translate into infidelity.”

Of course, psychiatrist Gail Saltz, M.D., author of Anatomy of a Secret Life: The Psychology of Living a Lie, points out that infidelity happens everywhere, and people who live on the west coast shouldn’t suddenly freak out and assume that their partner will cheat. (And the reverse is true, too—Midwesterners shouldn’t be super smug about their apparently lack of cheating.)

She says other factors are much more likely to increase the risk that a person will cheat, like whether they’ve been raised with infidelity in their family, if they’re in a much more liberal environment where a lot of people aren’t getting married, and if there is a lot of cheating happening around them. “That will change your perception of how okay it is to be unfaithful,” she says.

Related: If They Cheated Once, Will They Cheat Again?

Of course, no cheating is good, and it sucks that anyone reports doing it.

But there is a positive side to the study: Nearly 95 percent of the people surveyed say they’re happy in their relationship.


By Korin Miller

More from Women’s Health:

The Surprising Factor That Makes People More Likely to Cheat

How to Know If He’s Lying to You About Cheating

9 Men Offer Honest Explanations for Why They Cheated