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J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2006 Jul;31(4):253-62.

Social behaviour and mood in everyday life: the effects of tryptophan in quarrelsome individuals.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, 1033 Pine Avenue West, MontrĂ©al, Quebec. marije.annhetrot@mail.mcgill.ca



We hypothesized that increasing brain serotonin in healthy individuals with high scores on 2 self-report measures of trait quarrelsomeness would reduce quarrelsome behaviours and enhance agreeable behaviours when measured ecologically using an event-contingent recording method.


We conducted a double-blind crossover study, in which participants took tryptophan (3 g/d) and placebo for 15 days each and recorded how they behaved, felt and perceived others during everyday social interactions.


Tryptophan significantly decreased quarrelsome behaviours and increased agreeable behaviours and perceptions of agreeableness. Men also behaved less dominantly, whereas both men and women perceived others as more dominant.


Tryptophan's effects on behaviours and perceptions, while more marked in the men, were generally positive and accompanied by improved affect. Increasing serotonin in quarrelsome people may not only reduce behaviours associated with a predisposition to various mental and physical disorders but also enhance socially constructive behaviours and improve social perceptions.

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