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Hormone may ease social awkwardness

Dec. 12, 2011 at 8:13 PM   |   Comments

MONTREAL, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- First dates or Christmas cocktail parties can be major stressors for some, but an oxytocin nasal spray may make a difference, Canadian researchers say.

Senior author Mark Ellenbogen, Canada research chairman in developmental psychopathology at Concordia University and a member of the Center for Research in Human Development, said oxytocin, a hormone released naturally following childbirth or during social bonding periods.

"Our study shows oxytocin can change how people see themselves, which could in turn make people more sociable," Ellenbogen said in a statement. "Under the effects of oxytocin, a person can perceive themselves as more extroverted, more open to new ideas and more trusting."

The study involved 100 men and women, ages 18-35, who were not taking any medication, suffering from a current or past mental disorder, using recreational drugs or smoking cigarettes.

The participants inhaled oxytocin from a nasal spray and completed questionnaires on how they felt 90 minutes later.

"Participants who self-administered intranasal oxytocin reported higher ratings of extraversion and openness to experiences than those who received a placebo," first author Christopher Cardoso, a graduate student in at Concordia, said. "Specifically, oxytocin administration amplified personality traits such as warmth, trust, altruism and openness."

The study was published in the journal Psychopharmacology.

Topics: Christmas
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