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Oxytocin and racial bias: impact of the intranasal administration of oxytocin on empathy to physical pain and threat perceptions in racial contexts


In recent years, researchers have begun to question the traditional role of oxytocin (OT) as a promoter of exclusively pro social behaviors. Accordingly, a very recent wave of studies shows that the intranasal administration of OT may discriminately enhance feelings of proximity and protection towards the ingroup, but not the out group. Some authors have gone beyond, suggesting that OT may even elicit antagonical responses towards persons from different groups. However, extant results are rather inconsistent and often rely on non-comparable methodological approaches, pointing to distinct conclusions. We aim to offer a substantial advance to this literature by analyzing the impact of intranasal administration of OT on two central dimensions (assessed in the same sample): a) empathy to physical pain in persons of the same/different race; b) threat detection based on racial cues. We hypothesize that OT will a) enhance empathy only towards members of the same racial group as the subjects, b) but that it will not increase perceptions of threat associated to members of a distinct racial group. With its innovative multidisciplinary approach, our study aims to illuminate the impact of the neuroendocrine mechanisms at the level of socio-emotional processing, namely in what concerns inter-racial interactions. (AU)

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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
AMARAL, L.; GANHO-AVILA, A.; OSORIO, A.; SOARES, M. J.; HE, D.; CHEN, Q.; MAHON, B. Z.; GONCALVES, O. F.; SAMPAIO, A.; FANG, F.; et al. Hemispheric asymmetries in subcortical visual and auditory relay structures in congenital deafness. European Journal of Neuroscience, v. 44, n. 6, p. 2334-2339, . (14/06777-0)
EGITO, JULIA H.; NEVAT, MICHAEL; SHAMAY-TSOORY, SIMONE G.; OSORIO, ANA ALEXANDRA C.. Oxytocin increases the social salience of the outgroup in potential threat contexts. Hormones and Behavior, v. 122, . (16/17242-5, 14/06777-0)
CALDAS OSORIO, ANA ALEXANDRA; BRUNONI, ANDRE RUSSOWSKY. Transcranial direct current stimulation in children with autism spectrum disorder: a systematic scoping review. DEVELOPMENTAL MEDICINE AND CHILD NEUROLOGY, v. 61, n. 3, p. 298+, . (14/06777-0)

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