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J Psychopharmacol. 2014 Nov;28(11):1001-8. doi: 10.1177/0269881114544775. Epub 2014 Aug 13.

Effects of ecstasy on cooperative behaviour and perception of trustworthiness: a naturalistic study.

Author information

1
Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit, University College London, London, UK.
2
Imanova Centre for Imaging Sciences, London, UK Division of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London, London, UK.
3
Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit, University College London, London, UK v.curran@ucl.ac.uk.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Acute recreational use of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; 'ecstasy') can promote pro-social effects which may alter interpersonal perceptions.

AIMS:

To explore such effects, this study investigated whether acute recreational use of ecstasy was associated with changes in individual perception of trustworthiness of people's faces and co-operative behaviours.

METHOD:

An independent group, repeated measures design was used in which 17 ecstasy users were tested on the night of drug use (day 0) and again three days later (day 3); 22 controls were tested on parallel days. On each day, participants rated the trustworthiness of 66 faces, carried out three co-operative behaviour tasks (public good; dictator; ultimatum game) and completed mood self-ratings.

RESULTS:

Acute ecstasy use was associated with increased face trustworthiness ratings and increased cooperative behaviour on the dictator and ultimatum games; on day 3 there were no group differences on any task. Self-ratings showed the standard acute ecstasy effects (euphoria, energy, jaw clenching) with negative effects (less empathy, compassion, more distrust, hostility) emerging on day 3.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our findings of increased perceived trustworthiness and co-operative behaviours following use of ecstasy suggest that a single dose of the drug enhances aspects of empathy. This may in turn contribute to its popularity as a recreational drug and potentially to its enhancement of the therapeutic alliance in psychotherapy.

KEYWORDS:

3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine; Co-operation; acute; ecstasy; pro-social; psychological therapy; sub-acute; trust

PMID:
25122044
DOI:
10.1177/0269881114544775
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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