While many studies continue to further the belief that oxytocin is indeed 'the Love Hormone', other studies have focused on a possible darker side. One controversial study had already indicated that oxytocin might actually play a role in racism, through re-inforcing ingroup and outgroup mentality. And the findings of a new study published last month suggests that the hormone may actually increase conformist thinking in an individual within a group.
Two groups of 34 and 35 test subjects were given oxytocin nasal spray and a placebo respectively. They were asked to rate the attractiveness of symbols, but only after they had heard how others (from both groups) had scored the symbols. It was found that subjects given oxytocin were more likely to rate symbols higher if those symbols had been rated higher by others percieved to be in their group.
The researchers concluded that oxytocin promotes conformist thinking, in so much as it allows a person to be more easily influenced by a herd mentality.