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Oxytocin May Keep Men From Straying

Nov 14th, 2012

OxytocinOxytocin is a natural hormone that is typically associated with helping couples achieve become more intimate and attached to each other. It has also shown potential to help couples stay monogamous. In a recent study conducted by the University of Bonn suggests that the “trust hormone” may help keep attached men stay farther away from other women they find attractive.

The hormone has been known to nurture a sense of trust, diminish social phobias, reduce stress and depression, facilitate healing, and even make people more generous. However, its potential to keep committed people from getting to close to others is still unclear.

To get to the bottom of things, a research team led by René Hurlemann conducted an experiment. They found that committed men who were given oxytocin stayed at a greater distance away from women they considered attractive regardless of who initiated contact.

For the study, the team administered oxytocin or a placebo via nasal spray to heterosexual males. One hour later, the participants were introduced to a female experimenter who they considered as “attractive.” During the interaction, the experimenter regularly altered her distance from the men, and they were later asked to determine whether she was at an “ideal distance” or at a distance that made them feel “slightly uncomfortable.”

The research team predicted that those who were administered oxytocin would be more comfortable as the attractive woman came nearer, since the hormone creates a sense of trust. But the experiment showed the exact opposite. The team found out that attached men (but not single men) stayed farther away from the attractive woman.

The effect of oxytocin held true whether the woman maintained eye contact or averted her gaze. Oxytocin also did not affect the men’s attitude toward the female experimenter, who was considered attractive whether men received the oxytocin or the placebo.

More importantly, committed men who were administered the placebo did not feel the need to maintain the same distance as those who were given oxytocin, a sign that the hormone might keep committed men from getting physically closer to attractive women.

Source: VISTA Health Solutions

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