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Sex Dependent Affiliation Behavior and Empathic Approach in Mus musculus

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Title: Sex Dependent Affiliation Behavior and Empathic Approach in Mus musculus
Author: Brown, Kara
Advisor: Sternberg, Wendy
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Psychology
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Running Time: 19358 bytes308664 bytes
Issue Date: 2008
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of sex and oxytocin on approach behavior in mice elicited by empathy for the pain of another mouse. The approach behavior of a free mouse towards an enclosed mouse was measured during a 30 minute period. Sex differences in approach behavior were observed during the first experiment. Results showed that females approached mice in pain more often than mice not in pain, whereas this distinction between pain and no pain conditions was not present in males. We hypothesized that this effect may be mediated by a “tend and befriend” response to stress produced by oxytocin. Using the same experimental setup to measure approach behavior, oxytocin was administered by subcutaneous injection to female mice. We expected that female mice with increased oxytocin levels would approach a mouse in pain more often than a mouse not in pain. We also predicted that they would approach a mouse in pain more frequently than mice not injected with oxytocin. Results did not demonstrate effects of pain manipulation in the predicted direction. These results most likely stem from a number of unexpected side effects of high doses of oxytocin including its sedative effects. Studies such as these contribute to the larger goal of researchers to establish animal models of social relationships and emotion as a means of better understanding and treating social disorders in humans.
Subject: Empathy -- Sex differences
Subject: Affiliation (Psychology)
Subject: Pain -- Physiological aspects
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Brown, Kara. "Sex Dependent Affiliation Behavior and Empathic Approach in Mus musculus". 2008. Available electronically from

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