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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Apr;220(4):741-9. doi: 10.1007/s00213-011-2527-6. Epub 2011 Oct 20.

Acute intranasal oxytocin improves positive self-perceptions of personality.

Author information

1
Centre for Research in Human Development, Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, QC, H4B 1R6, Canada.

Abstract

RATIONALE:

Research suggests the experimental manipulation of oxytocin facilitates positive interactions, cooperation, and trust. The mechanism by which oxytocin influences social behavior is not well understood.

OBJECTIVE:

We explored the hypothesis that oxytocin alters how people perceive themselves, which could be one mechanism by which oxytocin promotes prosocial behavior.

METHOD:

In a between-subject, randomized, and double-blind experiment, 100 university students received a 24 I.U. dose of intranasal oxytocin or placebo, and then completed the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and other self-report measures 90 min later.

RESULTS:

Intranasal oxytocin increased ratings of NEO-PI-R extraversion and openness to experiences [F(1,98) = 4.910, p = .025, partial η (2) = .05; F(1,98) = 6.021, p = .016, partial η (2) = .06], particularly for the following facets: positive emotions (d = 0.48, p < .05), warmth (d = 0.47, p < .05), openness to values (d = 0.45, p < .05) and ideas (d = 0.40, p < .05), trust (d = 0.44, p < .05), and altruism (d = 0.40, p < .05). Oxytocin had no influence on ratings of negative emotionality, conscientiousness, rejection sensitivity, depression, worry, self-esteem, and perceived social support.

CONCLUSION:

The administration of oxytocin improved participants' self-perceptions of their personality, at least for certain traits important for social affiliation. Increased positive self-referential processing may be one mechanism by which oxytocin promotes positive social behaviors.

PMID:
22012170
DOI:
10.1007/s00213-011-2527-6
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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