Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Oxytocin Increases Envy and Schadenfreude (Gloating)

Work from Shamay-Tsoory et al. suggests that oxytocin plays a role in a wider range of social emotion-related behaviors than just positive pro-social behaviors.
Fifty-six participants participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subject study. Following the administration of oxytocin or a placebo, participants played a game of chance with another (fake) participant who either won more money (envy manipulation), lost more money (schadenfreude manipulation), or won/lost equal amounts of money. In comparison with the placebo, oxytocin increased the envy ratings during unequal monetary gain conditions involving relative loss (when the participant gained less money than another player). Oxytocin also increased the ratings of gloating during relative gain conditions (when the participant gained more money than the other player). By contrast, oxytocin had no effect on the emotional ratings following equal monetary gains nor did it affect general mood ratings.

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