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The effects of oxytocin on self-related processing and cognition
The effects of oxytocin on self-related processing and cognition
The neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) has been suggested to facilitate social cognition and behavior. Therefore, published literature mainly focuses on the study of OT in a social context or in relation to others. But how we think, act and feel in social situations might strongly depend on our own state of being – the self. Thus, the present three studies examine the effects of OT on self-related processing and cognition. The first study explores the idea that OT might decrease self-related information processing, even when individuals are specifically exposed to being self-aware. We could show that public self-awareness was increased when participants were placed in front of a mirror. Moreover, in the placebo group, lower scores in self-esteem were associated with increased self-awareness. This was not the case in the OT group in which self-esteem was unrelated to self-awareness. The results suggest that OT might function as a buffer against the negative consequences of enhanced self-related processing. The second study of this dissertation explores OT’s effects on self-related processing in a more physiological approach. Participants were to conduct a heartbeat perception task in front of a mirror (vs. no mirror) and we hypothesized OT to inhibit interoceptive awareness. Usually, people become more attuned to bodily responses in front of a mirror due to increased self-awareness. In line with the concept of de-individuation under OT, we could show that heartbeat accuracy, and thus interoceptive accuracy, was increased among participants under placebo who were placed in front of the mirror, but no such effect occurred after treatment with OT. The third study provides empirical evidence testing OT’s effect on situational self-awareness when attentional focus is shifted, either to external sensory perception or explicit self-related cognition, using a categorization vs. introspection task. The results suggest that situational self-awareness was reduced after OT treatment compared to placebo, when participants had previously been instructed to introspect about their feelings. In sum, all findings support the idea of OT being significantly involved in self-related processing and cognition by enhancing de-individuation.
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Burgstaller, Jessica
2020
English
Universitätsbibliothek der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Burgstaller, Jessica (2020): The effects of oxytocin on self-related processing and cognition. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences
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Abstract

The neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) has been suggested to facilitate social cognition and behavior. Therefore, published literature mainly focuses on the study of OT in a social context or in relation to others. But how we think, act and feel in social situations might strongly depend on our own state of being – the self. Thus, the present three studies examine the effects of OT on self-related processing and cognition. The first study explores the idea that OT might decrease self-related information processing, even when individuals are specifically exposed to being self-aware. We could show that public self-awareness was increased when participants were placed in front of a mirror. Moreover, in the placebo group, lower scores in self-esteem were associated with increased self-awareness. This was not the case in the OT group in which self-esteem was unrelated to self-awareness. The results suggest that OT might function as a buffer against the negative consequences of enhanced self-related processing. The second study of this dissertation explores OT’s effects on self-related processing in a more physiological approach. Participants were to conduct a heartbeat perception task in front of a mirror (vs. no mirror) and we hypothesized OT to inhibit interoceptive awareness. Usually, people become more attuned to bodily responses in front of a mirror due to increased self-awareness. In line with the concept of de-individuation under OT, we could show that heartbeat accuracy, and thus interoceptive accuracy, was increased among participants under placebo who were placed in front of the mirror, but no such effect occurred after treatment with OT. The third study provides empirical evidence testing OT’s effect on situational self-awareness when attentional focus is shifted, either to external sensory perception or explicit self-related cognition, using a categorization vs. introspection task. The results suggest that situational self-awareness was reduced after OT treatment compared to placebo, when participants had previously been instructed to introspect about their feelings. In sum, all findings support the idea of OT being significantly involved in self-related processing and cognition by enhancing de-individuation.