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Pfundmair, Michaela; Zwarg, Clarissa; Paulus, Markus; Rimpel, Anne (2017): Oxytocin promotes attention to social cues regardless of group membership. In: Hormones and Behavior, Vol. 90: pp. 136-140
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The social saliency account proposes that oxytocin (OT) plays a major role in modulating attentional shifts toward social cues at early stages of processing. We investigated how OT promotes early attention toward nonsocial and social stimuli and explored differences between in-group-and out-group-related social cues. After participants intranasally self-administered OT or placebo, they were eye-tracked while observing a nonsocial and social cues that were assigned to the in-or out-group by a minimal group paradigm. Participants under placebo did not differ in their fixation durations between stimuli, whereas participants administered OT increased gaze durations toward social but not nonsocial stimuli. In this early stage of processing, no in-group bias occurred: in-group-and out-group-related social cues were fixated equally long. These findings support that OT works by a simple illumination of social cues that seem to be processed regardless of social identity aspects at early stages of attention.