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How Oxytocin Research Got out of Hand

Gideon Nave
University of Pennsylvania

In this episode, we cover what happens when research becomes trendy, why trends seem to overrule scientific rigor, and how even one of the original authors debunking their own findings cannot put the genie back into the bottle.

Behavioral neuroscientists have shown that the neuropeptide oxytocin plays a key role in social attachment and affiliation in nonhuman mammals. Inspired by this initial research, many social scientists proceeded to examine the associations of oxytocin with trust in humans over the past decade. In a large-scale review, Gideon and his colleagues have dissected the current oxytocin research to understand whether findings are robust and replicable. Turns out they are not. However, even though the findings were established to be false, they keep propagating throughout the scientific record.

This podcast is a follow-on conversation to Gideon's Future of Science Seminar. You can watch the full seminar here.