- Oxytocin modulates the link between adult attachment and cooperation through reduced betrayal aversion
- Volume | Issue number
- 37 | 7
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
An experiment examined whether and how the relationship between individual differences in social attachment and cooperation is modulated by brain oxytocin, a neuropeptide implicated both in parent-child bonding, and in social approach. Healthy males completed a validated attachment style measure, received intranasal oxytocin or placebo, and privately chose between cooperation and non-cooperation in an incentivized social dilemma with an anonymous stranger. Attachment anxiety-the tendency to fear rejection by others-had few effects and was not modulated by oxytocin. However, oxytocin interacted with attachment avoidance-the tendency to fear dependency and closeness in interpersonal relations. Especially among participants high rather than low in attachment avoidance, oxytocin reduced betrayal aversion, and increased trust and cooperation compared to placebo. Effects of attachment avoidance and oxytocin on cooperation were mediated by betrayal aversion, and not by affiliation tendencies.
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