universiteit leiden

The social hotspot is of interest
to anyone who studies neuropsychological aspects
of human behavior in a social context.

 

Carsten de Dreu, new member of LIBC Social

This year, Carsten de Dreu has been appointed full professor at the Unit Social and Organisational Psychology of Leiden University. He recently joined the LIBC and is a new member of the hotspot LIBC social. Reason enough to interview Carsten about the LIBC, his research and his future plans.

This year, Carsten de Dreu has been appointed full professor at the Unit Social and Organisational Psychology of Leiden University. He recently joined the LIBC and is a new member of the hotspot LIBC social. Reason enough to interview Carsten about the LIBC, his research and his future plans.

You have a strong interest in cooperation and conflict, with an emphasis on conflict. How can the brain, or more generally human biology, inform these dynamics?

Human biology is a very broad and general concept and the field of behavioral biology is also a very broad research field. Not only humans experience conflict, animals have conflicts too. Investigating cooperation and conflict in non-humans informs you about universality. I love this comparative approach and it has led me to new questions in my research. Neurobiology uses techniques to address causes and consequences of conflict and cooperation in more precise ways instead of latent (made up) constructs. In neurobiology, for example, there is more consensus about labeling: testosterone is always labeled testosterone. Although in fMRI or neuroimaging research more generally there is also often the risk of overlabeling, neurobiology is a much older field with an intergrated ‘common language’. But even in neurobiology we keep updating our knowledge (see Carsten’s response to question 2).

This brings us to the next question. You have done quite some research on the effects of Oxytocin. What is your opinion on the recent debate about the reliability of Oxytocin findings?

People often focus on main effects. When is X larger than Y?, Are men taller than women?, etc. Even scientists struggle to move beyond such simple ideas but we need to consider contextual moderators when we want to further our understanding of the effects of Oxytocine or other neuropeptides. I think this is the problem with the Oxytocin debate: there are hardly any main effects. Oxytocine does not make you happy OR angry, instead it can do both under specific circumstances, in addition, it affects other neuropeptides which in turn have their effects. It is a complicated story, although a very interesting one. So it is too easy to say oxytocine does not have an effect, that it is not the trust hormone, or the cuddle hormone. The effects of oxytocine depend on the (social) context, which is what the hotspot LIBC-social is all about.

You became member of LIBC (LIBC-social)? What attracts you and what are your plans for the coming years?

What attracts me is the interdisciplinary focus of the LIBC, and especially of the LIBC-social hotspot. Something I have come to enjoy in my past years in Amsterdam, is working in ad hoc teams with people from many different disciplines. I have learned a tremendous deal about new techniques, and new perspectives, being confronted with these other disciplines. This I hope to find at the LIBC as well. The LIBC combines many different research fields that are interesting for the questions that I want to address. People from medical disciplines, for instance, who conduct research on rats, are looking at cortisol processes in conflict as well. How do their findings extend from animal to man? Questions like these are very interesting and relevant for my own research. I have no idea what this could bring, but I am looking forward to getting in contact with these people and share our knowledge. 

In your work, humans are often depicted as quite pragmatic, cooperating when they need to, but oftentimes very instrumental. As a last question we want to ask you, aside from your work, how do you see human nature?

Ha ha ha. This touches upon the topic of my inaugural speech. Well, it varies. Aside from my scientific insights, I have personal experiences too. People are great at cooperation, and I think oftentimes this occurs without much thought or hidden goals. Cooperation often fails dramatically too, and this is often caused by selfishness and greed. I can conclude that I see humans as a species that cooperates, but they do so as hedgehogs.

Carsten de Dreu will hold his inaugural lecture “The social psychology of organisations” on October 7th at 16:00 in the Academiegebouw in Leiden: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/events/2016/10/social-psychology-of-organisations

Read more about Carsten’s work on oxytocin in his most recent paper:

De Dreu, C. K., & Kret, M. E. (2016). Oxytocin conditions intergroup relations through upregulated in-group empathy, cooperation, conformity, and defense. Biological psychiatry79(3), 165-173.

 

News

 

Carsten de Dreu, new member of LIBC Social

This year, Carsten de Dreu has been appointed full professor at the Unit Social and Organisational Psychology of Leiden University. He recently joined the LIBC and is a new member of the hotspot LIBC social. Reason enough to interview Carsten about the LIBC, his research and his future plans.

Read more ...

 

Review on EEG measures of social anxiety

 

LIBC-social members Anita Harrewijn, Michiel Westenberg, and Melle van der Molen have recently published an interesting review article on electrocortical measures in research on social anxiety. 

Read more ...