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Study: Length Of Relationship Bears Weight When Deciding Whether To Forgive A Cheater

Photo Credit: FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

Photo Credit: FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Would you stay with someone who cheated on you? The answer might depend on how long you’ve been together.

A new study from Stanford University researchers found that those who were betrayed early on in a relationship thought long and hard when deciding whether or not to trust the person who betrayed them in the future, while those who had been in a relationship with a partner for a longer period of time were more likely to forgive the cheater based on habitual thinking.

According to the research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, activation in different parts of the brain during two experiments indicated “that decision making is less controlled and more automatic following a later as opposed to an earlier trust breach.”

When a breach in trust occurred earlier in a relationship, fMRI activity showed the anterior cingulate cortex, which is associated with learning, planning and problem solving, and the lateral frontal cortex, associated with feelings of uncertainty, was more active. Meanwhile, when the betrayal occurred after some time, the lateral temporal cortex, a part of the brain associated with habitual decision making, became more active.

Researchers hope the information gleaned from the study may help them to understand why people stay with partners who repeatedly deceive them.

To see the study, click here.

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