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The effects of oxytocin on social behaviour: the influence of context and individual differences

Daughters, Katie 2016. The effects of oxytocin on social behaviour: the influence of context and individual differences. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The current thesis sought to investigate the role of oxytocin (OT) in social and emotional behaviours and whether these effects are moderated by contextual factors and individual differences; and to address some of the methodological issues that arise in studies that administer intranasal OT (IN-OT). The findings indicate that the social effects of OT extend to third-party behaviour, and that these effects are moderated by contextual factors, although in contrast to previous research there was no evidence that individual difference factors moderate the effect of OT on participants’ social or emotional behaviour. The moderating effect of ingroup/outgroup membership lends itself to the theoretical argument that OT plays a role in a biological mechanism, developed over evolutionary time, to promote group-serving as opposed to self-serving behaviour in order to preserve group functioning and therefore provide indirect fitness benefits to the individual. Findings reported in the second half of this thesis provide evidence of a reliable effect of IN-OT on salivary OT concentrations, and the presence of sizable individual differences in response to IN-OT. While the thesis provides evidence that these individual differences in peripheral concentrations of OT in response to IN-OT are not accounted for by various biological factors (such as gender) that often act as logistical constraints in OT research, there was also no evidence that psychological factors could explain these differences. Taken together the thesis reports valuable extensions to previous research, demonstrating that OT’s effects extend to third-party social and emotional behaviours and that these effects are moderated by contextual factors; and implications for clinical research, by reporting on a novel clinical group to OT research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Funders: ESRC, School of Psychology
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 February 2017
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2019 02:34

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