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Oxytocin Cools Marital Spats

Inhaling oxytocin helps couples fight fair, a new study shows.

When couples sniffed oxytocin and then engaged in a mock argument, those who'd inhaled the good stuff showed more positive communication and engaged in less negative behaviors. They also had lower levels of cortisol, indicating they didn't get as stressed out by the fight. The study was led by Beate Ditzen under the aegis of Markus Heinrichs, the University of Zurich scientist who did the original human oxytocin studies.

I reported on an earlier study by Bitzen that showed the same results: Oxytocin Keeps the Lid on Spats. Also, Adam Guastella in Australia, is studying the use of oxytocin inhalants as an aid to couples therapy.

The article is "Intranasal Oxytocin Increases Positive Communication and Reduces Cortisol Levels During Couple Conflict" by Beate Ditzen, Marcel Schaer, Barbara Gabriel, Guy Bodenmann, Ulrike Ehlert, and Markus Heinrichs. Authors Ditzen and Ehlert are affiliated with the Department of Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. Ditzen is also with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia. Schaer, Gabriel, and Bodenmann are from the Department of Psychology, Institute for Family Research and Counseling, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland. Heinrichs is affiliated with the Department of Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. The article appears in Biological Psychiatry, Volume 65, Issue 9 (May 1, 2009), published by Elsevier.

Luckily, Elsevier's PR person gave this a better title: Love Potion #1?