Administration of oxytocin, the love hormone, to central members of a social network may help increase cooperation, suggests a new research published in Journal of Neuroscience,
Large groups of people cannot coexist peacefully without cooperation – more social and cooperative people end up as leaders in formal organizations and informal social groups. Yet collaboration can conflict with individual goals.
How did cooperation between humans develop? a hypothesis
oxytocinKnown for its involvement in bonding, this may explain how humans developed the cooperation necessary to live in groups.
Lee et al. Participants who played the most dominant, or central, role in the artificial social network were given intranasal oxytocin or a saline placebo. Participants played a series of virtual games with strangers.
In one game, central members received money from peripheral members and set a limit to the minimum offer they would accept. When central members received oxytocin, cooperation spread through the network; After several rounds of play, the offer and acceptance range evolved into a fifty-fifty split, a sign of cooperation.
In another game, oxytocin increased the likelihood that central members would choose to cooperate and then punished peripheral members for uncooperative behavior, which was tracked with in-group increases in cooperation.
These results indicate that cooperation from influential group members spreads to the rest of the group, possibly through increased enforcement of social norms.