London: While the benefits of cooperation in human society are clear, it also has a dark side - one that encourages corrupt behaviour, says a study.
"Collaborative settings, not just greed, can provide fertile ground for corruption," said lead author Ori Weisel at University of Nottingham in England.
While much is known about individual immoral behaviour, little is known about the collaborative roots of corruption, Weisel said.
The researchers focused on cases where working together meant violating moral rules, at a possible cost to the larger group, or the organisation to which they belong.
The study found the highest levels of corrupt collaboration occurred when parties shared profits equally, and were reduced when either player's incentive to lie was decreased or removed.
"Humans are an exceptionally cooperative species, which is at least partly driven by deeply ingrained moral sentiments that help to build trust and achieve mutual beneficial outcomes," Weisel said.
"From the point of view of an organisation seeking to reduce corrupt behaviour, assuring a decent base salary that does not depend on performance can reduce the likelihood that its employees engage in brazen lying," Weisel said.
The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.