Generosity is an important behavior enriching human society and can be observed across cultures. However, generosity has been shown to be modulated as a function of social distance, also referred to as social discounting. Oxytocin and empathy are other factors that have been shown to play an important role in generous behavior. However, how exactly oxytocin and empathy impact social discounting is yet unknown. Here, we administered oxytocin or placebo in a double-blind design, and measured social discounting behavior. Additionally, individual differences in empathy were assessed. Our results show that the effect of oxytocin on generous behavior is modulated by trait empathy; only for those subjects who received oxytocin there was a positive correlation between individual trait empathy and their generous behavior towards close others.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)