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  4. Increasing honesty with "smart drugs": The effects of methylphenidate and atomoxetine on cheating behaviour




Increasing honesty with "smart drugs": The effects of methylphenidate and atomoxetine on cheating behaviour



Public, Staff, Students

Speaker: Andreas Kappes, City University of London


More and more people are taking "smart drugs" such as methylphenidate and atomoxetine to improve their attention and performance. And yet, it seems unlike that these drugs only impact attention and not other behaviours as well, given the wide-ranging impact these drugs have on dopaminergic and noradrenergic activity in the brain. Neuroscientific evidence suggests that dishonesty might be one of the behaviours. And dishonest behaviour causes substantial damage across the globe but the neuromodulation of honesty has yet to be investigated. Here, we examined the effects of methylphenidate (increases striatal and frontal dopamine and norepinephrine) and atomoxetine (increases frontal dopamine and norepinephrine) on cheating behaviour. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled design, participants (N = 154) in our study were randomly assigned to receive either placebo (n = 52), methylphenidate (n = 50), or atomoxetine (n = 52). Participants then played a die rolling task that incentivized cheating. In line with previous research, we found substantial levels of cheating in the placebo condition. Methylphenidate, however, reduced cheating by 72% compared to the control condition; participants who received methylphenidate showed no evidence of cheating. Atomoxetine, by contrast, did not reduce cheating relative to placebo. Given the high prevalence of "smart drug" use such as methylphenidate, our results have important practical implications, suggesting that at least some smart drugs not only increase attention but also honesty.

A light lunch with refreshments will be available from 12:30, with the seminar starting at 13:00.

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When and where

1.00pm - 2.00pmWednesday 20th November 2019

D427 City, University of London Northampton Square London EC1V 0HB United Kingdom