Oxytocin is often referred to as the 'love hormone' because of its ability to promote mother-infant attachment and romantic bonding in adults. (Agencies)
Researchers found that oxytocin can sharpen the brain's self-other differentiation, a function that has been shown to play a crucial role in social bonding, successful social interactions and the tolerance of others.
They also found that oxytocin helps to increase our positive evaluation of other people. This further supports the role of the oxytocinergic system in the empathic response and the modulation of social cognition.
"Social bonding, mutual support, mate preference and parental investment are all mediated by the oxytocinergic system, which is heavily reliant on a person's ability to appreciate that self and others are both different and valuable," said Neuropsychoanalysis Foundation research grantee, Dr Valentina Colonnello.
Participants in the study were shown videos of their own face morphing into an unfamiliar face and vice versa, and were instructed to press a button as soon as they felt that they saw more features belonging to the incoming face.
Of the 44 participants, those given oxytocin before the task were significantly faster at identifying the new face, regardless of whether it was their own or that of a stranger.
The placebo-treated participants were also more likely to rate their own face as being more pleasant to look at than an unfamiliar face, according to Colonnello and Dr Markus Heinrichs from the Department of Psychology at the University of Freiburg in Germany.
The oxytocin-treated participants, on the other hand, rated their own face and others’ face as similarly pleasant. The study was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.
Oxytocin is often referred to as the 'love hormone' because of its ability to promote mother-infant attachment and romantic bonding in adults.