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Oxytocin, but not Vasopressin, Increases both Parochial and Universal Altruism

Author

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  • Salomon Israel
  • Ori Weisel
  • Richard P. Ebstein
  • Gary Bornstein

Abstract

In today’s increasingly interconnected world, deciding with whom and at what level to cooperate becomes a matter of increasing importance as societies become more globalized and large-scale cooperation becomes a viable means of addressing global issues. This tension can play out via competition between local (e.g. within a group) and global (e.g., between groups) interests. Despite research highlighting factors influencing cooperation in such multi-layered situations, their biological basis is not well understood. In a double-blind placebo controlled study, we investigated the influence of intranasally administered oxytocin and arginine vasopressin on cooperative behavior at local and global levels. We find that oxytocin causes an increase in both the willingness to cooperate and the expectation that others will cooperate at both levels. In contrast, participants receiving vasopressin did not differ from those receiving placebo in their cooperative behavior. Our results highlight the selective role of oxytocin in intergroup cooperative behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Salomon Israel & Ori Weisel & Richard P. Ebstein & Gary Bornstein, 2012. "Oxytocin, but not Vasopressin, Increases both Parochial and Universal Altruism," Discussion Paper Series dp598, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
  • Handle: RePEc:huj:dispap:dp598
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    Cited by:

    1. Roman M. Sheremeta, 2015. "Behavior in Group Contests: A Review of Experimental Research," Working Papers 15-21, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    2. Lönnqvist, Jan-Erik & Walkowitz, Gari, 2018. "Experimentally Induced Empathy does not Affect Monetarily Incentivized Dictator Game Behavior," MPRA Paper 85162, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    Keywords

    altruism; oxytocin; vasopressin; intergroup cooperation; nested social dilemma;

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