Does loving others make us more likely to Lie?
Does our capacity to love also make us more likely to lie? A recent joint study by Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev in Israel and the University of Amsterdam in Netherlands reveals some stunning connections between the two seemingly contradictory concepts.
There are currently few studies on the biological foundations of lying. To explore this gap, the researchers focused on one hormone that has been linked to trust and being defensive: oxytocin. Incidentally, oxytocin is also responsible for promoting the bonds between couples and family members.
To test if oxytocin had anything to do with lying, the researchers gathered 60 men in a prediction game and grouped them into 20 teams of three members each. The men are then asked to predict the results of 10 coin tosses. The more they predicted correctly, the more money their team would receive.
The catch was that some of the men were given a dose of oxytocin while some weren’t. The teams were also asked to self-report on whether their predictions for the 10 coin tosses were correct or not.
There is only a 1% chance of successfully predicting the result of 9 out of 10 coin tosses, clarified a BGU director. This means that those who claim to have successfully predicted 9 out of 10 coin tosses are likely to be lying.
After the prediction game, the researchers found out that 23% of participants who did not take oxytocin lied about their results. What was staggering was that 53% of participants who took oxytocin lied about their results. This means that oxytocin, the ‘love hormone,’ is linked to greater instances of lying.
If oxytocin promotes interpersonal bonding, does this mean that people with more oxytocin tend to lie more to benefit their loved ones? BGU’s researcher Dr Shaul Shalvi said that their findings raise the question: are all lies immoral?
The researchers concluded that ‘Our results suggest people are willing to bend ethical rules to help the people close to us, like our team or family.’ Dr Shalvi added that the results show the connection between co-operation and the tendency to be dishonest, which can provide insight into ‘when and why collaboration turns into corruption.’