Columbus Criminal Defense Blog

Oxytocin: We need to pay attention to this

06-04-2012

By Connor Roe, Summer Associate

Recent studies on oxytocin have made it more and more relevant to crime. The hormone oxytocin, also known as the "love hormone," is usually recognized for its role in sexual reproduction, more specifically its pain killing side affects in women before and after childbirth. However, more recently this hormone is being recognized for its relevance in certain behaviors, such as social recognition, anxiety, and pair bonding. When a person is unable to secrete oxytocin, he or she is far more likely to display sociopathic, psychopathic, and/or narcissistic tendencies. Persons unable to produce oxytocin are also likely to show manipulative behavior.

However, not only does a lack of oxytocin produce a likelihood of creating behaviors that often leads to criminal behaviors, but also an excess can do the same. The "love hormone" produces a strong feeling of trust between two or more people but that trust is often limited to those within the same group. As a reporter for the New York Times, Nicholas Wade, stated, "[Oxytocin is a] hormone of the clan, not universal brotherhood." Essentially it has the ability to promote ethnocentrism. Also cited in the NYT article, Dr. De Dreu concluded that oxytocin promotes a favoring of the ''in group'' at the expense of an ''out group.'' Therefore it is an easy relation to make between racial violence and gang warfare and the hormone oxytocin. As a result of more and more information being uncovered about oxytocin is making the hormone more relative to law practice and enforcement.