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Intranasal oxytocin reduces reactive aggression in men but not in women: A computational approach

Zhu, Ruida and Liu, Chao and Li, Ting and Xu, Zhenhua and Fung, Bowen and Feng, Chunliang and Wu, Haiyan and Luo, Yi and Wang, Li (2019) Intranasal oxytocin reduces reactive aggression in men but not in women: A computational approach. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 108 . pp. 172-181. ISSN 0306-4530.

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Aggression is an important behaviour that concerns individual survival and large-scale social stability. It comprises a variety of psychological subcomponents and is modulated by different biological factors. Two factors in particular, gender and oxytocin, appear to play a robust role in aggressive behaviour. However, whether these two factors interact to impact aggressive behaviour is not currently known. The current study investigated the modulating effect of gender on the relationship between oxytocin and aggression and characterized its underlying mechanisms by combining behavioural economic, pharmacological, and computational approaches. Specifically, we employed a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, between-subjects design, in which one hundred participants (50 men and 50 women) completed a norm-training version of the multi-round one-shot ultimatum game (UG) after intranasal oxytocin or placebo administration. Rejection rates in the UG were adopted as an indicator of reactive aggression. The results indicated that oxytocin compared with placebo administration decreased aggression among men but not among women. Further analyses suggested that this decrease in aggression was a result of changes in men’s sensitivity to provocation and positive affect, rather than norm adaptation rates or concerns about the cost of aggression. These findings highlight the role of gender in the relationship between oxytocin and reactive aggression and reveal its underlying psychological and computational mechanisms.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Liu, Chao0000-0001-7049-493X
Li, Ting0000-0001-8273-5593
Fung, Bowen0000-0001-9177-6725
Wu, Haiyan0000-0001-8869-6636
Additional Information:© 2019 Elsevier Ltd. Received 6 April 2019, Revised 7 June 2019, Accepted 28 June 2019, Available online 2 July 2019.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Postdoctoral Program for Innovative TalentsBX201600019
China Postdoctoral Science Foundation2017M610055
China Scholarship Council201706040120
CAS Key Laboratory of Behavioral ScienceY5CX052003
National Natural Science Foundation of China31400963
Subject Keywords:oxytocin; reactive aggression; gender; sensitivity to provocation; positive affect
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190708-160955701
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Ruida Zhu, Chao Liu, Ting Li, Zhenhua Xu, Bowen Fung, Chunliang Feng, Haiyan Wu, Yi Luo, Li Wang, Intranasal oxytocin reduces reactive aggression in men but not in women: A computational approach, Psychoneuroendocrinology, Volume 108, 2019, Pages 172-181, ISSN 0306-4530, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:96930
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:08 Jul 2019 23:47
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:19

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