What Is The Caligula Effect?

Caligula, a Roman Emperor, was infamously remebered as someone with "cruelty, extravagance, and sexual perversity, presenting him as an insane tyrant." Click here to read more.

(Time Healthland) The Caligula Effect: Why Powerful Men Compulsively Cheat

By Jeffrey Kluger Tuesday, May 17, 2011 | View Comments

Human males have never been thought of as models of sexual restraint — and with good reason. From the moment the adolescent libido begins to boot up, boys seem to enter an ongoing state of emotional — if not literal — priapism, from which they never fully emerge.

As far as nature is concerned, this is just fine. The goal of any organism, after all, is to ensure the survival and propagation of its genes, and males — far more so than females — are eminently equipped to do that. Even the world’s most reproductively prolific mothers rarely produce more than eight or nine children in a lifetime. Males can conceive everyday, even multiple times a day, and come emotionally hardwired to do just that.

Part of the reason they don’t, apart from the impracticality of trying to raise a brood of 200 children, is that they just don’t get that many mating opportunities. Sex requires a willing partner, and females, with so much more on the line in terms of the time, effort and energy that pregnancy and child-rearing involve, can be extremely selective in choosing mates. That requires males to develop a whole suite of emotional muscles — self-denial, self-restraint, a facility for delayed gratification — that will help them cope with an appetite that at some levels will never be fully satisfied. And that, in turn, is a central pillar of monogamy and fidelity.

(More on TIME.com: Sex and Politics: Are Powerful Men Really More Likely to Cheat?)

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Also see Are Creative Types More Likely to Cheat?What is the Medea Complex?Does Cheating Warrant a Woman to Bludgeon Her Husband to Death?, Don’t Work… to Keep Your Husband Faithful? and Do Men in Relationships Convince Themselves that Other Fertile Women Aren’t that Hot Anyway?

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