Oxytocin, More Does More Than Make Us Love

Published: 08th December 2010
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First found by scientists in women who were lactating, oxytocin has since found to have additional roles in human physiology and wellbeing. At first, according to Dr. Margaret McCarthy, we thought oxytocin was only in women, but then was found to be a key link between men and women during intimate situations, and without enough oxytocin release the "connection" felt was lessened.

Now new research out of the Claremont University in Claremont California is showing that oxytocin is connected in a very powerful way to our abilities to boost trust and empathy. This in the research study was linked with the ability of oxytocin to reduce both anxiety and stress and therefore increasing overall wellbeing in subjects in the study at Claremont University.

The study was done exclusively in women and recruited 60 females in total. By first asking the women questions regarding their satisfaction with life, their overall happiness and well being along with their relationship history, the researchers were able to classify each participant for the experiment. A stranger then approached each female randomly within the following days where they received a gift of a small sum of money and were told that if they wanted they could return a portion of the money to the stranger they could. After each female was given the money they then had their blood sampled.

From this data the researchers found that the women who had felt better about life overall and who had longer lasting relationships had both larger amounts of oxytocin release from the donating stranger encounter than did the women who had less favorable interview results.

This research, according to Dr. Paul Zak, is the first data to show that oxytocin is important in trust, as the women who were most satisfied with their lives were also the ones that shared the most money with the stranger.

Whether these results will translate over to men is still unknown, the experts feel that it may in part, though previous research on men and oxytocin show that the effects, if any, on mood and wellbeing are blunted compared to what women experience.

According to Dr. Larry Young of Emory University, women, when it comes to oxytocinís effects are much more affected by the levels in the blood compared to men and why this is most likely relates to the historical roles of men and women in childbearing and why we see the highest levels possible when women have very young children and are breastfeeding.

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