Faculty Advisor

Andresen, David

Area of Study

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Publication Date

Summer 2018


The “uncanny valley” is the effect of being ‘creeped out’ by things that are very close, but not quite, human (e.g., a ventriloquist dummy). Over the past two summers, I found that intranasal administrations of oxytocin, a hormone which affects attention to external social information, decreased participants’ reaction times when assessing uncanny valley stimuli, but did not affect their ratings of eeriness. Furthermore, oxytocin affected participants’ reaction times the most for stimuli rated to be intermediately eerie but altered their visual attention the most during the perception of stimuli rated to be either not eerie or very eerie. From these results, it appears that objects in the uncanny valley are processed as social information at different points of cognition, such as during early attention and decision making, and that oxytocin affects sociocognitive processes at these loci. The observed effects are novel and noteworthy, addressing both gaps and disagreements in the scientific literature surrounding both the nature of the uncanny valley, and oxytocin’s role in social cognition.


University of Puget Sound