As well as facilitating parturition, the hormone oxytocin is thought to mediate "prosocial behaviour" in mammals. It’s been a while since I have read the literature, but I am aware there is robust evidence that oxytocin mediates social bonding and pair bond formation. Acute administration of oxytocin can also increase social cognition such as facial recognition and trustfulness in games of cooperation between strangers
Games of deception could be an interesting paradigm under which to study the effects of oxytocin. in poker, one's ability to bluff is a core skill. I am always amused by the percentage of pro-poker players i see on late night TV wearing sunglasses-- either photophobia is greatly over-represented in this cohort, or more likely, facial expressions and in particular, the eyes, are important cues for the detection of deception.
This has got me wondering: Would acute administration of intranasal oxytocin have beneficial or deleterious effects upon performance in games of deception such as poker?
Moreover, might one expect differential effects of oxytocin among poker players with Asperger’s syndrome, such as the irreverent Tony G?
On one hand, oxytocin could improve one's ability to recognise facial expressions, particularly eye expressions indicative of deception. Conversely, oxytocin might evoke some sort of "miscalibration of social meta-cognition", leading a misplaced sense of trust in the intentions of opponents.
Alternatively, I think that oxytocin's role in social cognition is far more nuanced than how I understand it to be. actually, I have no doubt about that.
For instance, aside from inconsistencies in the literature, the papers I’ve read tend to highlight a "pro-affiliative" skew towards oxytocin maintaining cohesion amongst those with whom we're already familiar, the in-group. With regards to the out-group, I have this impression that it's geared towards "not throwing the first punch."
Any thoughts on the possible effect of oxytocin upon poker and other games of deception, or more broadly, how to more accurately frame my understanding of the social milieu within which oxytocin functions?
Oxytocin improves specific recognition of positive facial expressions
Oxytocin increases trust in humans
Oxytocin Improves “Mind-Reading” in Humans
Oxytocin Decreases Accuracy in the Perception of Social Deception