Friday, October 10, 2014
Members of a group are more likely to lie after they inhale the "love hormone" oxytocin, a study has found
This hormone is known to be released during close bonding between groups, and mothers also release it during childbirth and breastfeeding. The results suggest that individuals in closely bonded groups are more likely to lie when it benefits the group than when it only benefits the individual. When partaking in a financially rewarding task, groups given oxytocin nose spray lied significantly more than those doing the task alone. Those not given the hormone still occasionally lied, but a lot less. Lead author Shaul Shalvi of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, said that his team was interested in how far people would go for their loved ones. Dr Shalvi explained: "Do people do all they can to serve the group they belong to, even when it includes bending ethical rules such as lying? Our assumption is that our results support the functional approach to morality, where you decide what's right or wrong depending on the context of whether the act serves your loved ones, the group members. So participants inflated their outcomes in order to gain more money for their team." Some companies are now marketing oxytocin spray as an off-the-shelf "love hormone" but Dr Shalvi said that his results suggested people "may want to be careful about pursuing such a route", as his results show that the hormone can also make people more dishonest. But he added that the study once again highlights that lying is not necessarily always immoral. "Our results indicate that people feel justified to bend ethical rules when their dishonesty serves people they care about," Dr Shalvi said.