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Oxytocin modulates third-party sanctioning of selfish and generous behavior within and between groups

Daughters, Katie, Manstead, Antony Stephen Reid, Ten Velden, Femke S. and De Dreu, Carsten K. W. 2017. Oxytocin modulates third-party sanctioning of selfish and generous behavior within and between groups. Psychoneuroendocrinology 77 , pp. 18-24. 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.11.039

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Human groups function because members trust each other and reciprocate cooperative contributions, and reward others’ cooperation and punish their non-cooperation. Here we examined the possibility that such third-party punishment and reward of others’ trust and reciprocation is modulated by oxytocin, a neuropeptide generally involved in social bonding and in-group (but not out-group) serving behavior. Healthy males and females (N = 100) self-administered a placebo or 24 IU of oxytocin in a randomized, double-blind, between-subjects design. Participants were asked to indicate (incentivized, costly) their level of reward or punishment for in-group (outgroup) investors donating generously or fairly to in-group (outgroup) trustees, who back-transferred generously, fairly or selfishly. Punishment (reward) was higher for selfish (generous) investments and back-transfers when (i) investors were in-group rather than outgroup, and (ii) trustees were in-group rather than outgroup, especially when (iii) participants received oxytocin rather than placebo. It follows, first, that oxytocin leads individuals to ignore out-groups as long as out-group behavior is not relevant to the in-group and, second, that oxytocin contributes to creating and enforcing in-group norms of cooperation and trust.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Oxytocin; Parochial altruism; Competition; Endocrinology; Economic games
Additional Information: This journal has an embargo period of 12 months (accessed 9.12.16).
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0306-4530
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 6 December 2016
Date of Acceptance: 29 November 2016
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2019 02:34

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