High Profile Men and Cheating

Posted on March 12, 2008

Newsweek has an interesting article where several experts try to analyze the minds of men like Eliot Spitzer who inexplicably throw everything away to have a risky affair. Eliot Spitzer is a very successful man. He has a beautiful wife and family and a wonderful career. So why then did he risk everything to spend a short amount of time with a prostitute? The article explains that it has a lot to do with chemistry, evolution and testosterone. It says these kinds of traits are sometimes associated with alpha males.
Sensation seekers don't just lust after things--they take them, often disregarding the risks that block their way. "When you're dealing with these high-level, in-your-face, go-for-everything guys, you're dealing with people who take a lot of risks. If that results in gains for them, they get on a roll, and pretty soon their risk management starts to fade a little," says Gladue, who is based at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. "At some point, they can't manage every aspect of their lives. They have to blow off some steam, so they say to themselves, 'this is something I'm going to do for thrills or chills or fun. It's kind of dangerous, and I'm not going to worry about it.' For politicians, that's often in their private life, where they don't have people managing them all the time. And that's where things get out of hand."

For these types, the risk itself is part of the reward. "Breaking rules is a thrill for them," says Frank Farley, a psychologist at Temple University. "Look at Spitzer: he's Mr. Rectitude, the terror of Wall Street, and he busts prostitution rings, and yet he allegedly goes into that very lions' den-the prostitution ring-and partakes. If that isn't risk-taking I don't know what other label to put on it."

He's Hormonal. Alpha males are high on testosterone, the hormone that underlies almost all the typical traits of the politico-sexual animal: high levels of testosterone make for a high sex drive, a love of risks, aggressiveness and competitiveness. "These people have a strong need to win at games, which is obviously important in power politics," says Zuckerman. Success sends their testosterone spiraling up, while a loss brings the levels down-a phenomenon that's been documented in the lab as well as in athletes and chess champions.
The article also says that power can corrupt. Powerful people have access to things that regular people may not even consider.
And then power has its own corrosive effects. A person who seeks out power may already be compromised. But once he's got that power, he may be tempted beyond anything he's experienced before. "We sometimes say, 'God, what do these people think, the rules don't apply to them?' Well, that's often true. They really do live in a different world from most of us," says Gastil. "Spitzer apparently had access to a service where you pay top dollar for exclusivity and discretion-one that most people don't have access to. Probably your average philanderer doesn't know such a company even exists." Remember the explanation Bill Clinton gave for his cheating: "I did something for the worst possible reason-just because I could."
Some people like to say that people who engage in high-risk behaviors secretly want to be caught but that's highly unlikely with most powerful men who take risks. They don't think they will get caught - they think they will get away with it.

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