Testosterone – we know it promotes aggression and dominance, but a new study says it may also diminish lying.
A potential interpretation for our findings is that testosterone administration affects a concern for self-image , or pride , i.e., enhances behavior which will make a subject feel proud and leads to the avoidance of behavior considered “cheap” or dishonorable.
Looks like virtue (in the classic Roman sense of manliness) and honesty are indeed closely related.
Lying is a pervasive phenomenon with important social and economic implications. However, despite substantial interest in the prevalence and determinants of lying, little is known about its biological foundations. Here we study a potential hormonal influence, focusing on the steroid hormone testosterone, which has been shown to play an important role in social behavior. In a double-blind placebo-controlled study, 91 healthy men (24.32±2.73 years) received a transdermal administration of 50 mg of testosterone (n = 46) or a placebo (n = 45). Subsequently, subjects participated in a simple task, in which their payoff depended on the self-reported outcome of a die-roll. Subjects could increase their payoff by lying without fear of being caught. Our results show that testosterone administration substantially decreases lying in men. Self-serving lying occurred in both groups, however, reported payoffs were significantly lower in the testosterone group (p<0.01). Our results contribute to the recent debate on the effect of testosterone on prosocial behavior and its underlying channels.
Wibral M, Dohmen T, Klingmüller D, Weber B, Falk A (2012) Testosterone Administration Reduces Lying in Men. PLoS ONE 7(10): e46774. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046774