Display Settings:

Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Biol Psychiatry. 2009 May 1;65(9):728-31. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2008.10.011. Epub 2008 Nov 22.

Intranasal oxytocin increases positive communication and reduces cortisol levels during couple conflict.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. b.ditzen@psychologie.uzh.ch

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

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.

METHODS:

In a double-blind placebo-controlled design, 47 heterosexual couples (total n = 94) 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.

RESULTS:

Oxytocin significantly increased positive communication behavior in relation to negative behavior during the couple conflict discussion (F = 4.18, p = .047) and significantly reduced salivary cortisol levels after the conflict compared with placebo (F = 7.14, p = .011).

CONCLUSIONS:

These results are in line with animal studies indicating that central oxytocin facilitates approach and pair bonding behavior. Our findings imply an involvement of oxytocin in couple interaction and close relationships in humans.

Comment in

PMID:
19027101
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk