Oxytocin enhances implicit social conformity to both in-group and out-group opinions

Yi HUANG, Keith M. KENDRICK, Huimin ZHENG, Rongjun YU*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


People often alter their own preferences when facing conflicting opinions expressed by others. This is known as the social conformity effect and tends to be stronger in response to opinions expressed by in-group relative to out-group members. The hypothalamic neuropeptide oxytocin promotes in-group favoritism, elicits parochial altruism, and stimulates in-group conformity under explicit social pressure. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled design experiment using a facial attractiveness judgment task, we therefore investigated whether social conformity to either in-group or out-group opinions is influenced by intranasal oxytocin treatment when social pressure is implicit. After oxytocin or placebo treatment, male participants were asked to rate the attractiveness of unfamiliar Chinese female faces, and then they were informed of ratings given by peers from an in-group (Chinese) and out-group (Japanese) simultaneously. They were subsequently asked unexpectedly to re-rate the same faces. Results showed that oxytocin increased conformity to both in- and out-group opinions. Thus oxytocin promotes conformity to opinions of both in- and out-group members when social pressure is implicit, suggesting that it facilitates 'tend and befriend' behaviors by increasing the general level of social conformity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-119
Number of pages6
Early online date17 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • In-group bias
  • Oxytocin
  • Social conformity
  • Tend and befriend


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