Search This Blog

Saturday, 1 May 2010

'Cuddle hormone' makes men more empathetic

A nasal spray can make men more in tune with other people's feelings, say a team of German and UK researchers. They found that inhaling the "cuddle hormone" oxytocin made men just as empathetic as women. The study in 48 volunteers also showed that the spray boosted the ability to learn from positive feedback.

This is really interesting as women have long been known to be more empathetic than men and also able to learn from others especially from men, but this is not true the other way around.

Oxytocin is a naturally produced hormone, most well-known for triggering labour pains and promoting bonding between mother and baby. This study is the latest of several that suggest that intra-nasal oxytocin seems to 'sensitise' people to become more aware of social cues from other individuals said Professor Gareth Leng. But it has also been shown to play a role in social relations, sex and trust.

In terms of positive feedback, in a second experiment, the researchers measured "socially motivated learning" where the volunteers were asked to do a difficult observation test and were shown an approving face if they got the answer right and an unhappy face if they got it wrong.

In these types of experiments, people generally learn faster if they get positive feedback but those who had taken the oxytocin spray responded even better to facial feedback than those in the placebo group.

This is very interesting to all people, not just social researchers, as it sheds more light on the link between relationships and how people show emotion and are generally able or not to show empathy and identify with other people's feelings.

No comments: