The dark side of love and self-sacrifice

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According to Jesus

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

But research by Carsten De Dreu shows that the brain hormone oxytocin, the “love hormone”, encourages in males not only self-sacrifice in defense of the group, but also paranoid preemptive attacks in defense of it.

According to Jeremy Hsu

“The most important practical implication is that we should stop treating oxytocin as a panacea for distrust and conflict,” De Dreu pointed out.

In other words, giving oxytocin to everyone in the world won’t necessarily usher in a new era of peace and prosperity. It might even spur more paranoia and conflict between different groups or nations.

“Giving soldiers oxytocin might make them more cooperative towards their comrades, even willing to self-sacrifice,” De Dreu said. “But it should [also] make them more likely to launch a preemptive strike against the competing army, with conflict-escalation being the most likely consequence.”

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