TED Conversations

Amélie Gourdon

Lecturer, Kingston University London


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Oxytocin, just a positive hormone?

I found Paul Zak's talk disturbingly blindsided me when I first watched it live in July. Recent research showed that at least oxytocin bounding properties have collateral effects which are not so positive. For example, by reinforcijng bounding, it increases preference for our ingroup and prejudice towards the outgroups (De Dreu, Greer, Van Kleef, Shalvi & Handgraaf, 2011).
You can read more about that study (and others regarding oxytocin) on Ed Yong's blog:


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  • Nov 2 2011: Paul Zak's concept of oxytocin is amazing and I'm convinced of the claims he has made. However, we must keep in mind that we can only "give of ourselves" according to how much we have evolved. For example, Mr. Zak believes that "all" mammals can be induced to produce more oxytocin...but....in terms of the evolution kingdoms..one can only operate at his or her level of development. He could not produce the same results at every level. For instance, if we wish to induce oxytocin in a psychopath or someone with OBS or frontal lobe damage, the results could not possibly be measured or determined empirically. Perhaps oxytocin levels could be successfully administered but if one does not have the necessary morality function within himself or herself, it would be a waste of effort. We all should know we do not cast "pearls on swines."

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