Junk Science

Ashley Madison’s Craziest Relationship Pseudo-Science

Ashley Madison has been publishing studies on its cheating members since at least 2012. Among other things, they blame little girls for their mothers' infidelity

Junk Science
Ashley Madison blames your little daughter for your infidelity. Nice.
Aug 19, 2015 at 12:47 PM ET

Over the next few days, we can expect to see every conceivable breakdown of the data behind the Ashley Madison hack. But long before the Dark Net betrayed 32 million online cheaters, Ashley Madison was throwing around its own statistics and studies, ostensibly based on online surveys of its members.

Until now, it has been hard to take most any of these studies seriously (one press release claimed that Ashley Madison surveyed 3,000 married, cheating moms in honor of Mother’s Day). But it is likely that, in the coming weeks, social scientists will actually be able to test some of these claims and determine how much of their so-called stats were simply junk science aimed at would-be, pay-to-play-the-field philanderers. Here are the strangest studies to come out of Ashley Madison before the leak:

Intense In-Laws Make You Cheat

You’ve got to blame somebody for your fling, and it sure isn’t going to be yourself. In honor of the 2014 holiday season, Ashley Madison released a comprehensive breakdown of how more than 100,000 of its cheaters would be spending Christmas—and four out of five of the unfaithful said they’d be with their in-laws. Naturally, Ashley Madison concluded that visiting your in-laws makes you cheat. Besides this being a classic correlation/causation bias, it is unclear how Ashley Madison drew that conclusion from the data. But that doesn’t make it any less hilarious.

Cheaters Choose Androids Over iPhones

Adulterers prefer Android, Ashley Madison concluded after examining data collected from 29 million users in 2014. Ashley Madison found that its millions of cheaters like their software like their relationships: open-source. Their top email service provider was Gmail (37.03%), the top web browser was Chrome (52.09%) and the mobile device of choice was Android (53.21%). Of course, the most likely explanation is that these statistics are fairly representative of any random population. But Noel Biderman, CEO of Ashley Madison, had a different (and now painfully ironic) take on the data:

“I’m not surprised to see that Google came out on top when it came to our members’ choices for email providers, browsers and mobile phones,” he said in the formal press release. “Google prides itself at being at the forefront of technology, especially when it comes to privacy. It makes sense that our members would gravitate towards products and services that ensure all their communication will be kept safe and discreet behind layers of security.”


Moms Start Cheating After Mother’s Day

Ashley Madison often brags that the day following Mother’s Day is a busy day in the infidelity business. After polling 2,865 unfaithful mothers, Ashley Madison concluded that the average cheating mom is 31 years old, married five years or less and has a young daughter.

The Ashley Madison press release gradually raises suspicions when it claims that 69 percent (yes, exactly 69 percent) of the female users on Ashley Madison are mothers, and then adds that moms report feeling especially ready for an extramarital fling in the days following Mother’s Day.

Then CEO Biderman throws in one of his winning quotes, and the entire study loses whatever credibility remained: “Mothers with daughters especially need that testosterone in their lives,” Biderman says. “They may also be receiving less help from their husbands as men tend to be more helpful in raising sons than daughters, which leaves them resentful.” Translation: Ashley Madison blames little girls for their mothers’ affairs. Classy.

…And After Valentine’s Day

Guess what? Mother’s Day isn’t the only big day in philandering. Ashley Madison also claims that it sees significant spikes in female membership around Valentines Day. Specifically, Ashley Madison claims that it sees a 439 percent increase in sign-ups on the day after Valentines Day, and a 271 percent increase in sign-ups the day before Valentines Day.

Interestingly, on Valentine’s Day itself it seems people are busy with their committed relationships—Ashley Madison reported a 314 percent decrease in signups on February 14th. Naturally, the press release reminds its desperate male readers that the demographic that saw the largest spike in membership was, you guessed it, married women. This becomes significantly less plausible when you remember that even preliminary data from the Ashley Madison leak suggests that, at best, only 14 percent of active users are female.

Cheaters Are Unimaginative Eaters

Where do you take that special someone who is most certainly not your spouse? Ashley Madison conducted a survey of 42,890 users across the United States to find out. The results suggest unfaithful foodies gravitate toward popular chain restaurants (such as Morton’s Steakhouse and Cheesecake Factory) that are at least 20 miles away from their homes.

The top five restaurants for cheaters (in order of preference) were: Morton’s Steakhouse, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Houston’s, P.F. Chang’s and The Cheesecake Factory. Other popular destinations include Chili’s, Red Lobster and Outback. Noel Biderman explained the strategy behind sticking to steakhouses in a press release: “Steak houses are always a popular affair destination since they’re not only dimly lit but also commonly found in business districts, close to hotels where the these type of dates typically end.” [sic].

The Unfaithful Play Call Of Duty And Grand Theft Auto

Boys will be boys and, when they’re not cheating on you, they’re playing racing games and first-person shooters, according to Ashley Madison. In one of the most plausible Ashley Madison surveys yet, men reported that their top five favorite video games (in order of preference) were Grand Theft Auto 5, Call of Duty Black Ops, Fifa 2013, Forza Motorsport and Resident Evil 6.

Ashley Madison expressed some surprise that men prefer cars and guns to Lara Croft and her revealing outfits, but still took pride in the fact that their cheaters chose Grand Theft Auto, a “perfect mix of reckless behavior, adrenaline rush, and strategic thinking,” according to the press release. Say what you want about Ashley Madison’s adulterers—they’ve got good taste in video games.