Warm and Fuzzy Oxytocin Has Its Limits
Hormone fuels good vibes but only towards 'in' group
By Nick McMaster, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2011 1:00 PM CST
People participate in a rally against a proposed mosque and community center near ground zero in New York, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

(Newser) – Oxytocin is a hormone most commonly associated with the close feelings of trust and companionship that lovers and family members feel. But the chemical may have a dark side: new research shows there are limits to the affection it can stimulate, the New York Times reports. Experiments by University of Amsterdam researchers employed familiar psychological methods for assessing subconscious negative feelings and the willingness of subjects to sacrifice a single person for the greater good.

The names used in the experiments were typical German or Muslim names—"out" groups for the Dutch students who participated in the study. A quick sniff of oxytocin, and the Dutch students were both more subconsciously apprehensive about "out" group names, and all to ready to throw Ahmed or Helmut in front a moving train in order to save 5 people's lives—suggesting that oxytocin's positive vibes stop shortly at the border of one's own sense of community.

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Jan 12, 2011 6:00 AM CST
Like other brain hormones and neurotransmitters, the role of oxytocin is complex - it does not play a simple role of rising to make people bond to each other. A Pennsylvania study measured hormonal responses to kissing in long-term relationships, and found that oxytocin levels decreased. Maybe that confirms the cynical theory that relationships are not meant to last forever, and after 10 years+ couples are just going through the motions of being turned on by each other (they should have checked it out on people in new relationships too). On the positive side, there is some research suggesting that testosterone in men's saliva does float a woman's boat - better make sure your kisses are wet, guys.
Jan 11, 2011 9:12 PM CST
>> Warm and Fuzzy Oxytocin Has Its Limits Yeah no matter how much Rush takes it can't make him cool.