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Oxytocin and reactive aggression

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

The current study investigated the modulating effect of gender on the relationship between oxytocin and aggression and characterized its underlying mechanisms by combining behavioral economic, pharmacological, and computational approaches. Specifically, we employed a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, between-subjects design. In this design, participants completed a norm-training version of the multi-round one-shot ultimatum game (UG) after intranasal oxytocin or placebo administration factors (gender and oxytocin), and one hundred participants appear to play a robust role in aggressive behavior.

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 analysis suggested that this decrease in aggression was a result of the 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.


Zhu, R., Liu, C., Li, T., Xu, Z., Fung, B., Wang, L*, Wu, H*, Luo, Y*, & Feng, C*. (2019). Intranasal oxytocin reduces reactive aggression in men but not in women: A computational approach. Psychoneuroendocrinology. [link]


Chinese Academy of Sciences;

University of Chinese Academy of Sciences;