Monogamous men through the hormone oxytocin
Monogamous men with nasal spray containing hormones? Scientists from the University of Bonn have investigated the effect of the hormone oxytocin on social behavior and the willingness to flirt in men and have now published the results in the renowned specialist magazine "The Journal of Neuroscience".
From previous studies, oxytocin was already known for its influence on the pair binding of the monogamous prairie vole, report the researchers led by Nadine Striepens and Dirk Scheele from the polyclinic for psychiatry and psychotherapy at the University Hospital Bonn. If the effect of oxytocin was abolished in the prairie vole, they behaved extremely polygamous, similar to the species of mountain vole. So far, however, it has not been clear whether the hormone also has a comparable impact on pair binding in humans.
Nasal spray hormone delivery Scientists investigated the effect of the hormone oxytocin on male behavior using 57 adult heterosexual volunteers who received either oxytocin or a placebo via nasal spray. Then, three-quarters of an hour later, one of the subjects subsequently rated the room as an attractive scientist, who acted as an experimenter. The study participants approached the woman for a conversation and stopped an average of 60 centimeters from the experimenter. This distance was determined by unconscious rules that apply when people approach each other, the scientists report.
Hormones influence the social distance "If the distance between the conversation partners falls below a certain level, this is perceived as unpleasant," explained Dr. René Hurlemann, senior physician at the clinic and polyclinic for psychiatry and psychotherapy at the University Hospital Bonn. Scientists describe the distance from the interlocutor as "social distance". When flirting between men and women, this also reflects the willingness to come closer. As part of the current study, the researchers have now investigated “whether the social distance can be influenced by the hormone,” explained the first authors Nadine Striepens and Dirk Scheele. The director of the clinic and polyclinic for psychiatry and psychotherapy of the Bonn University Hospital, Prof. Dr. According to Wolfgang Maier, the neurotransmitter oxytocin was already “known as a binding hormone”, the release of which is particularly high in the brain, for example, “during sex or in parents after the birth of their child.” The oxytocin produced in the hypothalamus also helps “that we put ourselves in a strong social bond, ”says Prof. Maier.
Oxytocin as a loyalty hormone? Therefore, as part of their current study, the researchers expected a reduction in the social distance between the men who received oxytocin and the attractive experimenter. Because the hormone has the reputation of "promoting social interrelationships". Surprisingly, however, the experiments showed an opposite effect. The subjects who were previously given oxytocin with the nasal spray and were in a steady relationship, subconsciously increased the social distance to the attractive interlocutor by around ten to 15 centimeters compared to the subjects who lived as singles or came from the untreated control group the researchers write. Apparently “the oxytocin acted as a kind Fidelity hormone"Explained Dr. Hurlemann.
Monogamous human relationships promoted by hormones The observed effect of oxytocin was also confirmed in a further study in which the test subjects were shown photos of attractive women on a monitor, with the possibility of zooming into the pictures. Heterosexual men in a couple relationship used this option much more slowly than singles after the administration of oxytocin. "Taken together, our results indicate that the increased release of oxytocin promotes loyalty in monogamous human relationships," the researchers conclude in the current article by the journal "The Journal of Neuroscience" (fp)
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