Giving your man an oxytocin pill before he heads out to the bar with his guy pals might become commonplace in the not-so-distant future: A new study from the University of Bonn in Germany found that attached men who got a nasal spray containing oxytocin put more distance between themselves and attractive women than those who received the placebo dose.
So how did this experiment work, exactly? Researchers gave 86 heterosexual men (some coupled, some not) either oxytocin nasal spray or a placebo spray, then had them participate in two experiments. First, they were approached by a comely female. Then they were shown pictures of both not-so-pleasing items (dirt, dismembered body parts [Ed. note: What kind of study is this? "Science: SVU"?]) and pleasing ones (pretty ladies, landscapes) and told to pull the the joystick toward them if it was pleasant, or push it away if it wasn’t.
Here’s where the interesting part happened, LiveScience reports:
Men dosed with oxytocin who had girlfriends or wives had bigger personal bubbles than other men. Single men and guys who got the placebo generally established themselves at about 20 to 24 inches (50 to 60 centimeters) away from the attractive experimenter. Oxytocin-dosed guys in relationships stayed about 28 to 30 inches (70 to 75 cm) away.
Guys in relationships who got the oxytocin dose were also slower than other men to respond to photographs of beautiful women in the joystick task, the researchers found.
What does all of this mean for oxytocin? That it apparently boosts fidelity. (It’s also been shown to increase empathy in men.)
“In monogamous prairie voles, we know that oxytocin plays an important role in the formation of the pair bond,” Larry Young, an oxytocin researcher at Emory University who was not involved in the study, said in a statement. “This study suggests that the general role of oxytocin in promoting monogamous behavior is conserved from rodents to man.”
You know what releases oxytocin in the body naturally? Sex. There’s no official word on this, of course, but sending him out the door for boys’ night after a little afternoon delight certainly can’t hurt if you’re overly worried about his wandering eye.
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