De Dreu CKW. Oxytocin modulates cooperation within and competition between groups: an integrative review and research agenda. Horm Behav 61: 419-428

Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Roetersstraat 15, 1018 WB Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Hormones and Behavior (Impact Factor: 4.63). 12/2011; 61(3):419-28. DOI: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.12.009
Source: PubMed


The author reviews evidence that hypothalamic release (or infusion) of the neuropeptide oxytocin modulates the regulation of cooperation and conflict among humans because of three reasons. First, oxytocin enables social categorization of others into in-group versus out-group. Second, oxytocin dampens amygdala activity and enables the development of trust. Third, and finally, oxytocin up-regulates neural circuitries (e.g., inferior frontal gyrus, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, caudate nucleus) involved in empathy and other-concern. Consistent with an evolutionary perspective on the functionality of cooperation, it is concluded that oxytocin-motivated cooperation is mostly parochial-it motivates (i) in-group favoritism, (ii) cooperation towards in-group but not out-group members, and (iii) defense-motivated non-cooperation towards threatening outsiders. Thus, in addition to its well-known role in reproduction and pair-bond formation, oxytocin's primary functions include in-group "tend-and-defend." This review concludes with avenues for new research on oxytocin's functions in within-group cooperation and between-group competition. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Oxytocin, Vasopressin, and Social Behavior.


Available from: Carsten K W De Dreu, Feb 23, 2015
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    • "Despite extensive research on the neurobiological mechanisms fundamental to the formation of monogamous ''pair-bonds'' (Young et al., 2011), relatively little is known about the neuroendocrine underpinnings of maintaining that relationship (Resendez and Aragona, 2013). There is considerable evidence that the oxytocin (OXT) system plays a critical role in the facilitation of social bonds (Lim and Young, 2006; Kendrick, 2000) and the expression of prosocial behavior toward a social partner, including affiliation (Feldman, 2012), cooperation (De Dreu, 2012), and trust (Mikolajczak et al., 2010), presumably by acting on OXTrelevant nuclei in the ''social brain'' (Macdonald and Macdonald, 2010). OXT is released endogenously following positive social interactions between existing social partners in humans (Grewen et al., 2005; Tops et al., 2007; Taylor et al., 2010) and nonhuman primates (Snowdon et al., 2010; Crockford et al., 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: Adult male-female bonds are partly characterized by initiating and maintaining close proximity with a social partner, as well as engaging in high levels of affiliative and sociosexual behavior. Oxytocin (OXT), a neuromodulatory nonapeptide, plays a critical role in the facilitation of social bonding and prosocial behavior toward a social partner (Feldman, 2012). However, less attention has been given to whether augmentation of OXT levels in an individual alters others' perceptions and behavior toward an OXT-treated social partner. We examined social dynamics in well-established male-female pairs of marmoset monkeys (Callithrix jacchus) in which one member of the pair was administered an intranasal OXT agonist, an OXT antagonist (OXTA), or saline. OXT treatment did not alter the expression of affiliative toward an untreated partner. However, OXT did significantly influence the expression of proximity and grooming behavior with a treated partner, as a function of OXT treatment and sex. Female interest in initiating and maintaining proximity with a pair-mate was altered by OXT treatment. Untreated female marmosets departed from their saline-treated partner more frequently than they approached them, as indicated by a low proximity index score. However, when males received an intranasal OXT agonist they had a significantly increased proximity index score relative to saline, indicating that their untreated partner approached them more often than they departed from them). Saline-treated females initiated and received equivalent levels of grooming behavior. However, when female marmosets were treated with an OXT agonist their untreated partner groomed them proportionately more often, for a greater total duration, and for more time per bout, than they initiated grooming behavior. These results suggest that intranasal OXT altered male and female marmosets' stimulus properties in such a way as to increase the amount of grooming behavior that females received from their long-term mate, as well as increase female interest in initiating and maintaining proximity with their long-term mate. Furthermore, these results support the notion that central OXT activity plays an important neuromodulatory role in the maintenance of long-lasting male-female relationships.
    Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 10/2015; 9. DOI:10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00251 · 3.27 Impact Factor
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    • "Second , we wanted to check for gender differences . Prior research often relied on male samples for studying parochial altruism ( De Dreu , 2012 ) or the effects of extremist propaganda ( Rieger et al . , 2013 ) . "
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    ABSTRACT: Research on parochial altruism demonstrated that hostility toward out-groups (parochialism) represents the dark side of the willingness to benefit one’s in-group even at own costs (altruism). Parochial aggression thereby emerged mainly under conditions of threat. Extremist propaganda videos, for instance by right-wing extremists, try to capitalize on parochial altruistic mechanism by telling recipients sharing their national identity that this nation is under threat wherefore they for have to join the extremist’s cause to prevent the extinction of their nation. Most of the time, propaganda videos are rated as uninteresting and non-persuasive by the target audience. Yet, evolutionary media psychology posits that the interest in and effectiveness of media increases when evolutionarily relevant problems are addressed. Consequently, interest in parochial altruistic right-wing extremist messages should increase under conditions of threat. The current study tested this assumption by randomly assigning German non-Muslims (N = 109) to either an existential threat (here: mortality salience) or a control condition and asking them to evaluate extremist propaganda that addressed them as either in-group members (right-wing extremists) or as out-group members (Islamic extremists). In support of the hypotheses, subjects under conditions of threat reported a higher interest in the right-wing extremist propaganda and perceived it as more persuasive. We discuss the results concerning the implications for evolutionary media psychology and the transmission of parochial altruism in propaganda videos.
    Frontiers in Psychology 08/2015; 6. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01222 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    • "Thus, an impairment of the insula during the CHD-presymptomatic motor state could be associated with the impaired expression of affiliative behaviors, as suggested by the positive correlation observed in our study between the frequency of emitted affiliative behaviors and the 18 F-DOPA uptake in the insula. The caudate nucleus is particularly involved in the human " trust network " (Baumgartner et al., 2008), and its activity increases throughout cooperation between protagonists (De Dreu, 2012). An impairment of the caudate nucleus during the presymptomatic motor state could therefore be associated with an impairment of social relationships. "
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    ABSTRACT: Parkinsonian patients experience not only the physical discomfort of motor disorders but also the considerable psychological distress caused by cognitive deficits and behavioral disorders. These two factors can result in a disruption of social relationships during the symptomatic and even the presymptomatic motor states of the disease. However, it remains difficult, if not impossible, to evaluate social relationships in presymptomatic patients. The present study focused on the evaluation of social relationships within a group of female long-tailed macaques during presymptomatic and symptomatic motor states induced by Chronic Low-Dose (CLD) and then Chronic High-Dose (CHD) systemic administration of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-l,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). Dopaminergic denervation within basal ganglia and cortical areas was evaluated using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans with 18 F-DOPA (6-[18F]-fluoro-L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine) radiotracer. Interestingly, social behavioral changes could be identified in the presymptomatic motor state before any motor and/or cognitive impairment occurred. Stronger effects were observed in subordinate animals compared to dominant animals. From baseline state to CLD-presymptomatic motor state, the frequency of emitted affiliative and aggressive behaviors increased. From CLD-presymptomatic to CHD-presymptomatic motor states, the frequency of the three categories of social behaviors (aggressive, submissive and affiliative) decreased. At this time, quantitative data analysis in PET scans highlighted a dopaminergic denervation in the insula and the posterior caudate nucleus. Finally, the frequency of the three categories of social behaviors decreased during the stable-symptomatic motor state compared to baseline and presymptomatic motor states; this was also associated with motor and cognitive disorders and a dopaminergic denervation in all the evaluated cortical and subcortical structures.
    Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 02/2015; 9. DOI:10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00042 · 3.27 Impact Factor
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