How to Outsmart Your Brain's Inbuilt Xenophobia

Evolution has trained your mind to create in-groups and out-groups in a flash—but the lines are more flexible than you think.

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Keep reading Show less

"Us vs. Them" Thinking Is Hardwired—But There’s Hope for Us Yet

Our implicit biases are rooted in biology, but they can be easily manipulated. That's both really good and really bad.

Robert Sapolsky has a bone to pick with oxytocin, or rather the public's perception of oxytocin. It is the love hormone, we've surely all read by now. It helps us bond to our parents, then to our lovers and later to our own children. An extra dose can increase empathy, goodwill, and understanding. But it's not all sunshine and rainbows, here's the catch: those warm fuzzy feelings are only generated for people you already favor. Oxytocin, represented more honestly, is the hormone of love and violence. Its effect in the presence of people you consider "others" is preemptive aggression, and less social cooperation. It creates distance as often as it bonds love, and we are hardwired for those social dichotomies.

Keep reading Show less