Oxytocin, the “love drug”, has been found to facilitate lying when lying would benefit the group a person belongs to according to research conducted by Shaul Shalvi from the University of the Negev in Israel and K. W. De Dreu from the University of Amsterdam in Holland that was published in the March 31, 2014, edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers examined the behavior of two groups of sixty people in situations where lying would benefit the group or only benefit the individual. One group of 60 participants received a dose of oxytocin in the form of a nasal spray prior to the trials. The people that received the oxytocin were found to be twice as likely to lie in situations that would benefit the group than people that did not receive the oxytocin. The participants that received oxytocin were no more likely to lie in situations that only benefited the individual.
The researchers propose that oxytocin functions in a “group-serving” capacity that abrogates the universally accepted condition of morality that claims “thou shalt not bear false witness.” Regardless of religion the “love drug”, oxytocin was found to promote lying when lying benefited the group but not the individual.
Participants that received oxytocin had no greater expectations that other members of their group would lie for them or the group than did participants that did not receive oxytocin.
The researchers theorize that the oxytocin system functions to promote adherence to moral codes as well as to break moral codes when such action benefits a larger group of people.