Who ever thought that couples could bond over nasal spray? But new research shows that a nasal spray containing the “love hormone” oxytocin helped make regular guys more empathetic and less gruff. Oxytocin is the hormone that strengthens the bond between nursing moms and their babies, and it’s also involved in pair bonding, love, and sex.
The spray was tested on a group of 48 healthy males–half received a spritz of the nose spray at the start of the experiment and the other half received a placebo. The researchers then showed their test subjects emotion-inducing photos like a bawling child, a girl hugging her cat, and a grieving man. Finally, they asked the guys to express how they felt.
The placebo group men reacted normally to the soppy pictures; which is to say they were either mildly uncomfortable or stoic. Whereas the group that had used the nasal spray were markedly more empathetic. The Register reports:
“The males under test achieved levels [of emotion] which would normally only be expected in women,” says a statement from Bonn University, indicating that they had cooed or even blubbed at the sight of the affecting images.
The study’s findings, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, suggest one trite application of the hormonal spray: Maybe a woman could give her undemonstrative husband a quick spritz to get him to really feel her pain, or to get him to coo over a kitten properly. But there might be a larger medical purpose too.
Researchers recently found that a dose of oxytocin can help autistic people become less awkward and more social. Now, they’re hoping that medication can also be developed to help socially withdrawn schizophrenics.
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