Anyone who has ever cheated on a test – or is considering it – might want to pay attention to this, as one study has found a link between certain hormones and those who are slightly less than honest.
Harvard University and the University of Texas at Austin found that the high levels of the reproductive hormone testosterone and the stress hormone cortisol meant that people were more likely to cheat, with 117 people tested.
The participants were asked to not only take a maths test, but also grade the results themselves and name the amount of questions they got right – and the results showing that those with the higher levels of cortisol were willing to not only cheat, but also lie about it.
In one press release, Robert Josephs, a UT Austin professor of psychology, claimed:
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. Testosterone furnishes this courage to cheat, and elevated cortisol provides a reason to cheat.
The stress reduction is accompanied by a powerful stimulation of the reward centres in the brain, so these physiological psychological changes have the unfortunate consequence of reinforcing the unethical behavior.