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AICE members show that oxytocin facilitates emotional mimicry in ways that are conducive to affiliation, pointing to a possible pathway through which oxytocin promotes social bonding.

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AICE member Rui Sun and Agneta Fischer, together with their colleagues from University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and University of Bournemouth have recently published a paper on Psychoneuroendocrinology. They explored how intranasal oxytocin nasal spray influenced emotion mimicry. They found that oxytocin increased mimicry of facial features of sadness (lips and chin, but not areas around the eyes), an affiliative reaction that facilitates social bonding; oxytocin also increased mimicry of happiness, but only for individuals who expressed low levels of happiness in response to neutral faces. Overall, participants did not reliably mimic expressions of fear and anger, echoing recent theoretical accounts of emotional mimicry as dependent on the social context.

Findings suggest that oxytocin facilitates emotional mimicry in ways that are conducive to affiliation, pointing to a possible pathway through which oxytocin promotes social bonding.

Link to paper: 

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S030645301930037X#!