A Recent Finding on Oxytocin

In a recent experiment, Swiss Neuroscientists Beate Ditzen, Marcel Schaer, Barbara Gabriel, Guy Bodenmann, Ulrike Ehlert, and Markus Heinrichs found for the first time a direct connection between oxytocin and couple bonding in human subjects. The following summary is drawn from their research report.


In nonhuman mammals, the neuropeptide oxytocin has repeatedly been shown to increase social approach behavior and pair bonding. In particular, central nervous oxytocin reduces behavioral and neuroendocrine responses to social stress and is suggested to mediate the rewarding aspects of attachment in highly social species. However, to date there have been no studies investigating the effects of central oxytocin mechanisms on behavior and physiology in human couple interaction.


In a double-blind placebo-controlled design, 47 heterosexual couples received oxytocin or placebo intranasally before a standard instructed couple conflict discussion in the laboratory. The conflict session was videotaped and coded for verbal and nonverbal interaction behavior (e.g., eye contact, nonverbal positive behavior, and self-disclosure). Salivary cortisol was repeatedly measured during the experiment.


Oxytocin significantly increased positive communication behavior in relation to negative behavior during the couple conflict discussion and significantly reduced salivary cortisol levels after the conflict compared with placebo. These results are in line with animal studies indicating that central oxytocin facilitates approach and pair bonding behavior, implying an involvement of oxytocin in couple interaction and close relationships in humans.


[See BIOL PSYCHIATRY 2009; 65:728–731doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2008.10.011 © 2009 Society of Biological Psychiatry]

                        author

Kenneth Cloke

Kenneth Cloke is Director of the Center for Dispute Resolution and a mediator, arbitrator, consultant and trainer, specializing in resolving complex multi-party conflicts internationally and in designing conflict resolution systems for organizations. Ken is a nationally recognized speaker and leader in the field of conflict resolution, and a published author… MORE >

Featured Mediators

ad
View all

Read these next

Category

Managing a Resentment Relapse at Work

Conflict Remedy Blog by Lorraine SegalA client of mine had a resentment relapse recently. I had worked with her over a period of months, to help her deal with a...

By Lorraine Segal
Category

Will The Topic Of Neuroscience Of Conflict Resolution Soon Be Outdated?

From Stephanie West Allen's blog on Neuroscience and conflict resolution. A blog post from The Saybrook Forum reminds us that we almost certainly think with more than just our brains....

By Stephanie West Allen
Category

Reflections on Parkland, from a Broward County Parent / Conflict Resolution Practitioner

Reflections on Parkland Any parent would feel shaken by a shooting at a school anywhere in the world. But when it happens less than 30 miles from where you live,...

By Larry Schooler

Find a Mediator

X
X
X