Pupil Synchronization_Oxytocin Trust_SI_2017_01_25.docx from Pupil-mimicry conditions trust in partners: moderation by oxytocin and group membership

2017-02-16T13:46:26Z (GMT) by Mariska E. Kret Carsten K. W. De Dreu
Across species, oxytocin, an evolutionary ancient neuropeptide, facilitates social communication by attuning individuals to conspecifics' social signals, fostering trust and bonding. The eyes have an important signalling function and humans use their salient and communicative eyes to intentionally and unintentionally send social signals to others, by contracting the muscles around their eyes and pupils. In our earlier research, we observed that interaction partners with dilating pupils are trusted more than partners with constricting pupils. But over and beyond this effect, we found that the pupil sizes of partners synchronize and that when pupils synchronously dilate, trust is further boosted. Critically, this linkage between mimicry and trust was bound to interactions between ingroup members. The current study investigates whether these findings are modulated by oxytocin and sex of participant and partner. Using incentivized trust games with partners from ingroup and outgroup whose pupils dilated, remained static, or constricted, this study replicates our earlier findings. It further reveals that (i) male participants withhold trust from partners with constricting pupils and extend trust to partners with dilating pupils, especially when given oxytocin rather than placebo; (ii) female participants trust partners with dilating pupils most, but this effect is blunted under oxytocin; (iii) under oxytocin rather than placebo, pupil dilation mimicry is weaker and pupil constriction mimicry stronger and; (iv) the link between pupil constriction mimicry and distrust observed under placebo disappears under oxytocin. We suggest that pupil-contingent trust is parochial and evolved in social species in and because of group life.