Format

Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Neurosci. 2012 Nov 14;32(46):16074-9. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2755-12.2012.

Oxytocin modulates social distance between males and females.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Bonn, 53105 Bonn, Germany.

Abstract

In humans, interpersonal romantic attraction and the subsequent development of monogamous pair-bonds is substantially predicted by influential impressions formed during first encounters. The prosocial neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) has been identified as a key facilitator of both interpersonal attraction and the formation of parental attachment. However, whether OXT contributes to the maintenance of monogamous bonds after they have been formed is unclear. In this randomized placebo-controlled trial, we provide the first behavioral evidence that the intranasal administration of OXT stimulates men in a monogamous relationship, but not single ones, to keep a much greater distance (~10-15 cm) between themselves and an attractive woman during a first encounter. This avoidance of close personal proximity occurred in the physical presence of female but not male experimenters and was independent of gaze direction and whether the female experimenter or the subject was moving. We further confirmed this unexpected finding using a photograph-based approach/avoidance task that showed again that OXT only stimulated men in a monogamous relationship to approach pictures of attractive women more slowly. Importantly, these changes cannot be attributed to OXT altering the attitude of monogamous men toward attractive women or their judgments of and arousal by pictures of them. Together, our results suggest that where OXT release is stimulated during a monogamous relationship, it may additionally promote its maintenance by making men avoid signaling romantic interest to other women through close-approach behavior during social encounters. In this way, OXT may help to promote fidelity within monogamous human relationships.

PMID:
23152592
DOI:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2755-12.2012
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center