Tuesday, September 1, 2015

There Is a Scientific Reason Why You, You and You Are a Liar and a Cheat. And a Scumbag. And a Shyster. And a Scoundrel. And a ...

Cheating on exams has become all too common. Archive photos.

LIKEsince … forever – some of the reactions of women, presumed to be outrageous, have been put down to hormones.

It's a common expression, a self-serving exaggeration of already dubious scientific pontification: “She’s hormonal.” Of course, that means a woman is menstruating and the hormones in play are essentially making her crazy.

No doubt, her response cannot simply be justified. Further, such short-sightedness does not take into account that a woman may not even be bleeding.

Now science informs us that hormones can drive people to commit all manner of unethical acts such as cheating. Two teams of researchers from the University of Texas- Austin and Harvard University have arrived at these conclusions.

In “Hormones and ethics: Understanding the biological basis of unethical conduct,” they posit that on two, different levels, hormones – housed in the endocrine system – can drive a body to lie and cheat.

Could it also extend to stealing, killing, kicking the dog, drowning the cat and so on? They don't say explicitly. The article is published in the August 2015 edition of Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

According to these findings, it's hormones that inform, for instance, the kind of behavior trumpeted by Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) in the film, “Wall Street.” (See video above.).

A math test administered to 117 people was the means by which researchers reached their findings about our behavior. The Hormones and Ethics study, researchers say, is one that illustrates the degree to which the endocrine system influences human behavior. It is the degree of this influence that early studies of hormones and behavior did not address.

“The take-home message from our studies is that appeals based on ethics and morality – the carrot approach – and those based on threats of punishment – the stick approach – may not be effective in preventing cheating,” says researcher and UT-Austin professor of Psychology Robert Josephs.

“By understanding the underlying causal mechanism of cheating, we might be able to design interventions that are both novel and effective.”

One hopes. One also hopes that a lot more study is done, lest hormones become the fall guy for everything that is wrong with us.

Visit http://www.bit.ly/1fZjcJZ to learn more about “Hormones and ethics: Understanding the biological basis of unethical conduct.”

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