The hormone oxytocin is usually associated with positive traits like trust, cooperation, and empathy, but scientists have now found that it can make people more dishonest when their lies serve the interests of their group.
“This is the best evidence yet that oxytocin is not the ‘moral molecule,’” said Carsten de Dreu from the University of Amsterdam, who co-led the study, which was published today (March 31) in PNAS. “It doesn’t make people more moral or immoral. It shifts people’s focus from themselves to their group or tribe.”
These findings are “consistent with more and more research showing that the effects of oxytocin aren’t straightforward,” said Carolyn DeClerck from the University of Antwerp, who was not involved in the study. “They can be social or antisocial, depending on the situation and on individual differences.”
Decades of animal studies have shown that oxytocin is involved in social behavior, cementing the bond with monogamous voles and between ewes and lambs. Early human experiments linked the hormone to human behaviors like trust and emotional sensitivity, earning it nicknames such as “love hormone” or “cuddle chemical.”
Read the whole story: The Scientist