November 27, 2012
The hormone oxytocin has many functions in the human body. Scientists now think it may also help deter cheating.
BOB HIRSHON (host):
A hormonal repellent. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Oxytocin is sometimes called the “love” hormone, because it’s associated with bonding between parents and children as well as between romantic partners. Now, German researchers report that it may also play a role in keeping mates from straying. University of Bonn psychiatrist Rene Hurlemann and his colleagues gave heterosexual men either oxytocin nasal spray or a placebo. Then they measured how close the men would get to an attractive female stranger before becoming uncomfortable.
RENE HURLEMANN (University of Bonn):
We had this expectation that oxytocin might actually decrease the personal space. But in fact, we found the opposite.
Men in relationships moved farther away from the woman when under the influence of the hormone.
Abbout a 15cm larger social distance than single males.
This suggests that oxytocin may help promote fidelity between partners. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.