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Science. 2010 Jun 11;328(5984):1408-11. doi: 10.1126/science.1189047.

The neuropeptide oxytocin regulates parochial altruism in intergroup conflict among humans.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Roetersstraat 15, 1018 WB Amsterdam, Netherlands. c.k.w.dedreu@uva.nl

Abstract

Humans regulate intergroup conflict through parochial altruism; they self-sacrifice to contribute to in-group welfare and to aggress against competing out-groups. Parochial altruism has distinct survival functions, and the brain may have evolved to sustain and promote in-group cohesion and effectiveness and to ward off threatening out-groups. Here, we have linked oxytocin, a neuropeptide produced in the hypothalamus, to the regulation of intergroup conflict. In three experiments using double-blind placebo-controlled designs, male participants self-administered oxytocin or placebo and made decisions with financial consequences to themselves, their in-group, and a competing out-group. Results showed that oxytocin drives a "tend and defend" response in that it promoted in-group trust and cooperation, and defensive, but not offensive, aggression toward competing out-groups.

PMID:
20538951
DOI:
10.1126/science.1189047
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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