To get at this question, the researchers conducted a randomized placebo-controlled trial, which means that they randomly assigned subjects to two groups: one that received intranasal administration of oxytocin, and another "control" group that got some type of non-oxytocin (placebo) spray. The researchers then exposed the subjects to attractive members of the other sex, both live and photographs. What they found was this:
- Men who were in monogamous relationships and given the oxytocin spray kept a much greater distance (∼10–15 cm) between themselves and the attractive woman when compared to the non-oxytocin control group.
- This effect did not occur with single men, nor did the distancing effect occur when the men were exposed to men.
- Moreover, when the men in monogamous relationships who were given the oxytocin spray were shown pictures of attractive women to examine, they approached the pictures more slowly than their counterparts who were given no oxytocin spray.
What's interesting is that the men still found these women attractive. In this study, oxytocin didn't make the women less attractive, it simply made the men in relationships keep their distance.
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Does this mean oxytocin is the cure for cheating? No. But this study, like any good study, raises interesting questions that can be further examined in new studies, which leads to more insight. Lots could be said on this, but I'll leave you to comment on what you think of this research.
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Article originally published on christiehartman.com.