Oxytocin 'Love Hormone' Also Kindles War and Violence

RoseTracker| Last week we wrote good news about misunderstandings around testosterone in our 32 Health Benefits of Loving Sex. If fact, people who have to little of it may be the real bad guys. Testosterone is good for you (we knew that!) and isn’t solely responsible for chair throwing on Wall Street and war in the Middle East.

Now for the bad news, and we don’t mean to oversimply the science.

Oxytocin — aka the cuddle hormone — can be anything but. Apparently oxytocin takes on its own fierce armor, inspiring humans to protect the hearth and homeland from enemies — real or alleged.

Carsten De Dreu, a social psychologist at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, says that “oxytocin not only plays a role in modulating cooperation and benevolence, but also in driving aggression.” The research was conducted on males, in a series of strategic games — not real-life war games.

Charles Darwin already observed that groups whose members are altruistic towards the own group have a greater likelihood to prosper, to survive, and spread. The (University of Amsterdam) researchers reasoned that if this is true, neurobiological mechanisms should have evolved that sustain altruism towards the own group, and aggression towards competing other groups. The discovery that oxytocin promotes altruism towards the own group, and aggression towards threatening out-groups, supports this evolutionary perspective. via Science Daily

The men studied were playing money games and tested on group interest vs self-interest but researchers believe that their findings are widely applicable.

This research automatically leads one to inquire whether it’s not in the best interests of group solidarity to stir up passions against “the others”. Making strangers into bad guys seems to promote patriotism at home.  This is how we read the scientific data.