Ecstasy, or MDMA, the popular and dangerous party drug, often referred to as a love drug because of its ability to create euphoria and feelings of well being toward your “in-group,” may also make you a racist.
According to a new study conducted in the Netherlands, although MDMA elicits the release of the “love hormone” oxytocin, which creates good vibes toward your friends, it also can induce feelings of “derogation” of outsiders. University of Amsterdam’s Carsten de Dreu, a psychology professor, contends that the oxytocin “motivates in-group favoritism,” but also has “a role in the emergence of intergroup conflict and violence.“
In the study’s experiments, the participants — all Dutch males — were told that they had to choose five persons out of six that would gain access to a life-saving lifeboat. The men on oxytocin were more likely to deny men with Muslim or German-sounding names access and save the men with Dutch names, while the men who were given a placebo didn’t pay attention to the origin of the names.
The professor suggests that oxytocin’s role in the formation of these emotions is not a particular distrust for those different from you, as much as kinship with those who appear to be more like you. Carsten says it isn’t so much racism as it is fanaticism. In effect, the love hormone produces an emotional bond with your support group.
Significantly, there exists some current research that suggests low amounts of oxytocin could contribute towards autism, a disorder that is frequently associated with a person’s lack of emotional understanding of others.