A Dose of Oxytocin Will Keep Your Man Faithful?

TIME Magazine speculates that a chemical released in the brain of a male when in love will lead to him being monogamous. This chemical is known as Oxytocin which is "a relatively short polypeptide hormone composed of nine amino acids. It is produced primarily in the hypothalamus and acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. Best known for its role in female reproduction, it is actually found in both male and female mammals."(WiseGeek). Oxytocin is famous for its role in love-whether its hugging, kissing or uhm...you know, Oxytocin is sure to be affected. 

Oxytocin, better known as the "love-hormone" is said to make a man's significant other appear "more attractive than strangers to men, even if both are objectively equally good looking." (Szalavitz,TIME). The hormone in men, "improves the ability to identify competitive relationships" thus making them more monogamous/loyal to their lover. 

The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where scientists tested the hypothesis that Oxytocin in males allows them to be more monogamous. The null hypothesis: Oxytocin in males has no affect on their outlook of relationships. The experiment involved 40 young men, all recorded as being "passionately in love with their partners" of six-months or more (Szalavitz,TIME). Scientists tested the male subjects by putting them through a brain scanner as they inhaled either a placebo or oxytocin nasal spray. Therefore, it is confirmed that the trial was one-sided blind. Scientists then provided the male test subjects pictures of their significant other, women they knew and women that were complete strangers to them while they inhaled either solution. What was being measured was how the men's brain responded to the images. Scientists looked specifically at areas of the brain in which responded to desire and pleasure. 

The brain scanner showed that the areas of desire and pleasure lit up when men who inhaled the oxytocin viewed images of their loved ones-but not when they viewed pictures of female strangers. However, these areas of the brain did light up when viewing pictures of female acquaintances, just not as strongly in comparison to viewing pictures of their loved ones. 

So how does this relate to a male's ability of being monogamous? "Once men receive oxytocin, the attractiveness of the partner increases compared to the attractiveness value recorded for other females" (Hurlemann,TIME). Therefore, men feel little desire to veer away from their loved ones and pursue outside relationships-instead they remain monogamous because (as shown in the brain scanner) their desires are fulfilled by one significant other.

The study conducted in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has given every reason to accept the hypothesis that Oxytocin in males allows them to be more monogamous. Therefore, we will reject the null hypothesis that Oxytocin in males has no affect on their outlook of relationships. The only area of critique is the amount of men tested-being a small portion of only 40 subjects. If the experiment were to test a significant number of subjects (ranging from 100 or more), the results would be far more convincing. Another issue is the fact that the experiment was only one-sided blind. This creates opportunity for bias behavior on the scientist's part. If it were to be double-blind, then the chance of bias is ruled out and the results again, would be more concrete. 

So next time your man's eyes begin to wander...maybe offer him an extra dose of oxytocin nasal spray? All in all, oxytocin has been proven to affect men and their view towards relationships. Who knew a hormone could do so much!

  1. Szalavitz, Maia, and Maia Szalavitz. "How Oxytocin Makes Men (Almost) Monogamous." Time. Time, 27 Nov. 2013. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.
  2. "What Is Oxytocin?" WiseGEEK. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.
  3. "'Love Hormone' Oxytocin: Difference in Social Perception Between Men and Women."ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2013. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.


I found this article pretty interesting. The experiment seemed pretty sound and the conclusion matched the hypothesis. What I read about oxytocon in the attached article said that it is considered the "love hormone". It makes a lot of sense that a dose of this hormone will increase the brain activity in the desire section of the brain. What was startling to me was the lack of this activity to other females shown to the men. This experiment seemed to connect monogamy to oxytocin very well.

Danielle, Great post, relationship now a days tend to be very touchy, I as a male thought I'm young and I need to live up my college years because it only happens once, before I go out into the real world. I believe that I should explore as much out into the sea as I can, however it would be a great tragedy if I couldn't find my way back. I always liked the idea of being a one-woman man, the idea of long walks on the beach holding hands and butterflies just flying all around in my tummy, with a nice little candle lit dinner by the beach with nice music playing in the background having the air filled with the "cuddle chemical"(Oxytocin). I wish it could be like that but it's not we live in a time were the number of womanizers are off the chart and the numbers are just too prolific to count, truth is if you are in a relationship you shouldn't need a spray to make the guy realize he is being foolish. If a guy truly loves you he will keep his eyes in check and will not go else where looking for something he has no business looking for, not all guys cheat.

Very interesting post! From my understanding Oxytocin is an important part of the the neuroanatomy related to intimacy. This particularly occurs before , during, and after childbirth. I believe it is a form of evolutionary instincts to help raise children. There is supposed to be a bond between man and woman and the child so that the child always has their parents to care for them . The Oxytocin is supposed to make (the father) share a bond with the child . Its much harder for a father to have close to the same bond mother and child has through the birth process. So I believe that the presence of Oxytocin is there to help grow stronger for the father caregiver of the child from and evolutionary standpoint. After much research I found that my theory is right . I found many studies that show that this has been hypothesized before ! One of the best supporting websites I found was http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7666183 . Check it out !

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