Poorer families take bigger risks, plus untrustworthy mugs and adulterous wives in this week's news

Your cheatin’ face
Some guys may literally have untrustworthy mugs. Men with wide faces more often deceived partners in negotiations and cheated on money-making games than thin-faced chaps did, say Michael Haselhuhn and Elaine Wong, both business professors at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. A heightened feeling of personal power reported by broad-faced men encouraged unethical deeds, the scientists report in an upcoming Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Physical traits that have evolved as signals of male dominance and aggression, including wide faces, also predict unprincipled behavior, Haselhuhn and Wong propose. Broad-faced women showed no penchant for lying and cheating, they add. —Bruce Bower

Adultery’s female upside
Extramarital affairs hold reproductive appeal for at least one group of women. Among African herders known as the Himba, adulterous encounters reported by married women account for 17 percent of the women’s offspring, explains behavioral ecologist Brooke Scelza of the University of California, Los Angeles. Himba women who stray have more children who survive into adulthood than those who stay faithful, Scelza reports in an upcoming Biology Letters. Women in arranged marriages sought affairs to escape parental authority and control reproductive decisions, Scelza suggests. Himba men leave home for long periods and tolerate adulterous wives because additional children provide valuable labor, in her view. —Bruce Bower


Little money, big risks
Poor families breed financial risk taking. When prompted to think about potentially fatal threats, people who grew up poor — regardless of their current circumstances — tend to value the present and to gamble for big, immediate monetary payoffs, say psychologist Vladas Griskevicius of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and his colleagues. Threat-primed individuals who grew up relatively well-off tended to value the future and to avoid risky wagers, the researchers report in an upcoming Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Impoverished childhood environments shunt people toward a “live-for-now,” risk-taking stance that surges in threatening situations, they suggest. —Bruce Bower

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