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Love Hormone

July 3, 2006

A hormone seems to take the edge off of marital spats.


How a hormone could help a marriage. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The hormone oxytocin is vital to love, sex, and emotional bonding. According to Emory University behavioral scientist Beate Ditzen, it may even soften domestic spats. At the University of Zurich in Switzerland, she and her colleagues monitored a stress hormone in couples discussing unresolved conflicts. Couples who snorted an oxytocin nasal spray beforehand produced significantly less of the stress hormone. They also talked more openly about their feelings.

BEATE DITZEN (University of Zurich, Switzerland):
I interpret that as very positive, that oxytocin made them overcome their avoidance of this self-disclosure during a conflict.

She says the ultimate goal isn’t to medicate marriages, but to understand how natural fluctuations in oxytocin can affect a relationship. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.