Oxytocin — the Love Drug’s Double Nature

Hans Gets Thrown Under the Bus

Alan Tabor
8 min readMar 7, 2022
Gratuitous Brian Ferry photo — Bryan singing Love is the Drug
Gratuitous Bryan Ferry PR Photo

The big picture

  • The neurotransmitter, oxytocin, both up-regulates and down-regulates empathy. It makes Us more us-like and Them more them-like.
  • Our Us vs Them reaction is fast thinking — a knee jerk response
  • Since it can’t be eliminated, it must be recognized, understood, and managed
  • Failure to do so opens us up to the worst sort of emotional and political exploitation.


Paul Zak is a researcher and the Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University.

In 2011 he had a hit TED talk.

Paul’s work focused on the neurotransmitter oxytocin and its role in up-regulating empathy, altruism, and morality.

I‘ll let Paul speak for himself:

I wanted to know if there’s a chemistry of morality. I wanted to know if there was a moral molecule.



Alan Tabor

Berkeley Backpacking Biz Lifer, System Builder, Coder, Community Organizer, Music and Evolutionary Biology Geek. All my projects at http://altabor.org/