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Hum Psychopharmacol. 2014 May;29(3):299-304. doi: 10.1002/hup.2402.

Gender moderates the effect of oxytocin on social judgments.

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Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



The neuropeptide oxytocin is implicated in social processing, and recent research has begun to explore how gender relates to the reported effects. This study examined the effects of oxytocin on social affective perception and learning.


Forty-seven male and female participants made judgments of faces during two different tasks, after being randomized to either double-blinded intranasal oxytocin or placebo. In the first task, "unseen" affective stimuli were presented in a continuous flash suppression paradigm, and participants evaluated faces paired with these stimuli on dimensions of competence, trustworthiness, and warmth. In the second task, participants learned affective associations between neutral faces and affective acts through a gossip learning procedure and later made affective ratings of the faces.


In both tasks, we found that gender moderated the effect of oxytocin, such that male participants in the oxytocin condition rated faces more negatively, compared with placebo. The opposite pattern of findings emerged for female participants: they rated faces more positively in the oxytocin condition, compared with placebo.


These findings contribute to a small but growing body of research demonstrating differential effects of oxytocin in men and women.


affective learning; facial expression; neuropeptide; oxytocin; social learning; visual perception

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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