12 December 2011
Oxytocin: the nervous dater's best friend
by George Atkinson
Oxytocin, the hormone that bonds mothers and babies, can also amplify personality traits such as warmth, trust, altruism and openness, according to a report in the journal Psychopharmacology. The new findings, by researchers from Concordia University, show that the intranasal form of oxytocin can improve self-perception in social situations such as dates, job interviews or parties.
"Our study shows oxytocin can change how people see themselves, which could in turn make people more sociable," says the study's senior author Mark Ellenbogen. "Under the effects of oxytocin, a person can perceive themselves as more extroverted, more open to new ideas and more trusting."
Ellenbogen recruited 100 men and women aged between 18 and 35 for the study. The participants inhaled oxytocin from a nasal spray and completed questionnaires on how they felt 90 minutes later. The subjects were then evaluated for neuroticism, extraversion, openness to new experiences, agreeableness and conscientiousness.
"Participants who self-administered intranasal oxytocin reported higher ratings of extraversion and openness to experiences than those who received a placebo," says co-researcher Christopher Cardoso. "Specifically, oxytocin administration amplified personality traits such as warmth, trust, altruism and openness."
The researchers say their findings add to past research that indicated oxytocin can influence how people perceive their ability to cope with difficult circumstances.
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Source: Concordia University