Sexual dimorphism in oxytocin responses to health perception and disgust, with implications for theories on pathogen detectionSexual dimorphism in oxytocin responses to health perception and disgust, with implications for theories on pathogen detection
Faculty of Applied Economics
2014New York, 2014
Hormones and behavior. - New York
65(2014):5, p. 521-526
University of Antwerp
In response to a recent hypothesis that the neuropeptide oxytocin might be involved in human pathogen avoidancemechanisms, we report the results of a study inwhichwe investigate the effect of intranasal oxytocin on two behaviors serving as proxies for pathogen detection. Participants received either oxytocin or a placebo and were asked to evaluate (1) the health of Caucasian male computer-generated pictures that varied in facial redness (an indicator of hemoglobin perfusion) and (2) a series of pictures depicting disgusting scenarios. Men, but not women, evaluated all faces, regardless of color, as less healthy when given oxytocin compared to a placebo.Women, on the other hand, expressed decreased disgustwhen given oxytocin compared to a placebo. These results suggest that intranasal oxytocin administration does not facilitate pathogen detection based on visual cues, but instead reveal clear sex differences in the perception of health and sickness cues.