Study Finds Oxytocin May Promote Fidelity (If Only Petraeus Knew)

Could General David Petraeus’ career have been spared by a healthy dose of oxytocin?


Researchers from Bonn report that the hormone may promote fidelity by affecting the distance men keep from unknown women they find attractive.

From the news release:

Men in committed relationships choose to keep a greater distance between themselves and an unknown woman they find attractive when given the hormone oxytocin, according to new research in the November 14 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The findings suggest oxytocin may help promote fidelity within monogamous relationships.

Oxytocin plays a vital role in triggering childbirth and facilitating nursing. The hormone, which is produced in a region of the brain called the hypothalamus, is also involved in the formation of social bonds. In humans and other animals, this brain chemical is known to promote bonds between parents and children, and between couples. Additionally, previous studies have shown oxytocin increases trust among people. However, scientists had yet to determine what, if any, role oxytocin played in maintaining monogamous human relationships.
Continue reading