Paper in Current Directions in Psychological Science
- Kemp, A. H., & Guastella, A. J. (2011). The role of oxytocin in human affect: A novel hypothesis. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(4), 222–231.
Social behavior is crucial for day-to-day activities, and oxytocin has emerged as playing a central regulatory role. Oxytocin increases positive social emotions such as trust and altruism, leading to the hypothesis that oxytocin facilitates positive prosocial behaviors. However, other findings suggest that oxytocin may play a more general role that includes the facilitation of negative social emotions. These findings have led to the broader social-salience hypothesis. We propose a third possible alternative explanation for the impact of oxytocin on negative social emotions and review evidence to support our social-approach/ withdrawal hypothesis. We also provide directions for future studies, highlighting the need for a direct comparison of alternative hypotheses relating to the impact of oxytocin on human social behavior.