Hormones Behind Cheating, Too

Men blame them for their partners' moods and misanthropy, women for their weight gains and woe.

We're talking, of course, about hormones.

Now a new study says they're also responsible for cheating.  According to newswise.com, hormones influence unethical behavior.

The study found that the endocrine system plays a dual role in unethical acts. First, elevated hormone levels predict likelihood of cheating. Then, a change of hormone levels during the act reinforces the behavior.

“Although the science of hormones and behavior dates back to the early 19th century, only recently has research revealed just how powerful and pervasive the influence of the endocrine system is on human behavior,” says author and University of Texas Austin professor of psychology, Robert Josephs.

 Researchers asked 117 participants to complete a math test, grade it themselves and self-report the number of correctly completed problems. The more problems they got correct, the more money they would earn.

From salivary samples collected before and after the test, researchers found that individuals with elevated levels of testosterone and cortisol were more likely to overstate the number of correctly solved problems.

“Elevated testosterone decreases the fear of punishment while increasing sensitivity to reward. Elevated cortisol is linked to an uncomfortable state of chronic stress that can be extremely debilitating,” Josephs say. “Testosterone furnishes the courage to cheat, and elevated cortisol provides a reason to cheat.”

Additionally, participants who cheated showed lowered levels of cortisol and reported reductions in emotional distress after the test, as if cheating provided some sort of stress relief.

”The stress reduction is accompanied by a powerful stimulation of the reward centers in the brain, so these physiological psychological changes have the unfortunate consequence of reinforcing the unethical behavior,” Josephs says.

So the next time you're tempted to cheat. . .blame your hormones!

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