Oxytocin: Prosocial Behavior, Social Salience, or Approach-Related Behavior?

  • Kemp A
  • Guastella A
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Comments on an article by S. G. Shamay-Tsoory et al. (see record 2009-14350-001). Shamay-Tsoory et al. reported that oxytocin increases envy and gloating and recent correspondence debating whether oxytocin is engaged in positive prosocial behavior or increases the salience of social behaviors more generally. Shamay-Tsoory et al. required participants to play a game of chance with another (fake participant) who either won more money (envy manipulation), lost more money (gloating manipulation), or won and lost equal amounts of money. Shamay-Tsoory et al. stated that oxytocin does not increase envy when the participant gained more money than the other player, the statistic for this finding actually bordered on significance Shamay-Tsoory et al. argue that their hypothesis relating to a more general effect of oxytocin on social salience reconciles the prevailing view that oxytocin increases prosocial behavior with contradictory findings of increased aggression following administration of oxytocin. In conclusion, the findings reported by Shamay-Tsoory et al. are important in that they highlight the complexity of oxytocin mediated changes in social behavior.

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