That seems like tough odds for the straight men worldwide who shelled out hundreds of dollars for a shot at infidelity. And it also suggests women are far less likely to cheat than men.
The research, albeit limited, shows that's not at all accurate. In 2011, researchers at Indiana University, home to the Kinsey Institute, which studies sex, surveyed 900 men and women in monogamous relationships to better understand their cheating habits. They found no major gender gap: 19 percent of the female respondents and 23 percent of the male respondents in the sample reported they'd "engaged in infidelity."
More data is necessary to understand the average straying lover, said Debby Herbenick, a sex researcher at IU, who runs the blog My Sex Professor.
She has concluded, however, through her own research and interviews, that men tend to seek out affairs more often than women and are likely to be more successful in this endeavor offline.
"It’s not surprising that many women connect with intimacy first in conversation," Herbenick said, "and that’s a pathway to feeling close to someone, imagining them as a sexual partner."
Sites like Ashley Madison also tend to foster behaviors that can repel female users, she said. "They quickly get off because they're harassed or they're treated poorly."
Ashley Madison founder Noel Biderman has argued that the site tries to level the playing field between men and women when it comes to infidelity. "If I'm guilty of one thing, it's of evening the landscape between women and men and allowing them to behave more like their male counterparts," Biderman said in an interview last year.
If the hackers' data dump is correct, then his model is not succeeding in that objective -- though there may be reasons to doubt the data, given the overall statistics on cheating trends (and the fact that, if Ashley Madison was not at least somewhat successful at facilitating infidelity, it may not be a viable business).
On the other hand, there's also evidence that Biderman's pursuit of equal opportunity cheating is of less noble means than he makes it sound. E-mails and files exposed last week, dug up by the Daily Dot, outline plans by Avid Life Media, the site’s parent company, to launch an app that would entirely exclude heterosexual women -- and potentially insult all women. (Avid Life Media did not respond to a request for comment.)
The tentative title: “What's your wife worth?”
The game would allow men to rate each other’s wives. In 2013, Biderman wondered in an e-mail how to best frame the concept: “Choice should be ‘post your wife’" he wrote, "and ‘bid on someone's wife.'"
The app never hit the market, to his apparent dismay. He asked in a 2014 e-mail: “What ever happened to our app?”
A colleague responded that it was “horribly developed.”