“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Part of the complex equation that leads to cheating includes how people react to temptation. Every day we are bombarded with temptation of all different kinds like high-fat or sugary foods, beverages, or even material possessions like vehicles, clothing and jewelry. What creates that feeling of temptation and why can some people resist while others cannot?

temptation to cheatRewards and Gratification

In general, we are tempted by things that activate the reward centers of our brains, releasing endorphins, dopamine, and other chemicals and hormones in our brain (and body) that produce a sensation of pleasure. Things that stimulate those reward centers are called reward stimuli. One part of temptation is how strongly attracted we are or how strongly we react to reward stimuli. The stronger the reaction, the more difficult it is for the person to resist the temptation and they give in quickly to experience the reward – this is called immediate gratification. People who do not react as strongly are better able to control the impulse for immediate gratification and hold out or delay giving into the temptation in anticipation of greater reward later – this is called delayed gratification. People who struggle to resist the allure of immediate gratification are more likely to cheat.

Mental and Emotional

Our ability to resist temptation is deeply impacted by our mental and emotional state both in general and at the time the temptation occurs. Overall, people with an optimistic personality and view of life are better able to resist temptation in the short term and focus on the delayed rewards they perceive as more desirable. People with a more negative view of life and pessimistic demeanor have more difficulty resisting temptation – and more likely to cheat. Regardless of personality type, people experiencing depression, anxiety or an unusually prolonged or high level of stress struggle to resist temptation significantly more than they would in times of greater emotional stability. In times of emotional difficulty, giving in to temptation can be a way of self-medicating to numb or avoid the emotional pain.

Temptation can trigger our most basic instincts, particularly if our mental or emotional state is compromised. Separately, our individual ability to control our reaction to reward stimuli and deliberately choose between immediate gratification or delayed gratification is a strong indicator of how well we are able to navigate the temptations of daily life. For some that temptation is a fast food drive-through or overspending on frivolous purchases, but for many, that temptation is cheating.

Bulldog PI specializes in adultery investigations in Myrtle Beach. If you suspect your significant other has succumbed to the temptation of cheating, we work to uncover the answers you need.