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heard of the Coolidge effect? science of cheating

The Coolidge effect (or instinct) is a phenomenon exhibited in males that display a much higher degree of sexual arousal when they are with a new female — in comparison to being with a female they have already mated with.

The behavior linked to this effect is often seen in action alongside porn addiction (even to junk food), open relationships, or infidelity… you get the gist of it. The constant dependency on a dopamine fix.

It may offer the explanation of why pornographic images or thirst traps are exciting to males, but after repeated viewing can “lose its effect“. The phenomenon may also explain why male pornographic actors may use the services of a fluffer.

The ancient mechanism of the Coolidge Effect makes a male seek out “novel” mating partners when their fertilization job is finished. It works by building tolerance to, or boredom with, the same female or stimuli. Over time their presence becomes less dopamine rewarding to the primitive “lizard” brain.

In 1958, behavioral endocrinologist Frank A. Beach attributed the neologism to an old joke about the 30th President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge.

The President and First Lady Mrs. Grace Coolidge were being shown (separately) around an experimental government farm. When Mrs. Coolidge came to the chicken yard she noticed that a rooster was mating very frequently.

She asked the attendant how often that happened and was told, “Dozens of times each day.” Mrs. Coolidge said, “Tell that to the President when he comes by.”

Upon being told, the President asked, “Same hen every time?” The reply was, “Oh, no, Mr. President, a different hen every time.” President: “Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge.”

Although the Coolidge effect has been tested in humans, it certainly doesn’t mean that we are wired to be chronic cheaters. Sure, sex… err.. novelty is great, looking from the biological level to this phenomenon, but have you tried it with the same partner? The evolution of humans made us less dopamine-dependent in that aspect, with emotions and rational thinking, so there’s a silver lining in fighting the Coolidge effect with other “happy chemicals” oxytocin and serotonin.

Having too much dopamine — or too much dopamine concentrated in some parts of the brain and not enough in other parts — is linked to being more competitive, aggressive, and having poor impulse control. It can lead to conditions that include ADHD, binge eating, addiction, and gambling. And yes, the victory of the Coolidge effect.

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