This is a really neat study, reported by MSNBC. Like a lot of the human oxytocin studies, it validates something that feels true already. In fact, this study, by Seth Pollak at the University of Wisconsin, validates a couple things:
First, talking to your mom on the phone can be just as powerful as being cuddled in person. Second, that technology-mediated interactions can feel just as "real" as face-to-face.
In the study, girls 7 to 12 years old had to solve math problems in front of judges, a stress-producing situation. Afterward, one group of girls got together with their moms for hugs and kisses. A second group called their mothers on the phone for verbal reassurance. The third group watched a heart-warming movie.
The researchers measured the girls' blood levels of cortisol and oxytocin before the math and again after the cool-down. They found higher oxytocin and lower cortisol not only in girls who got cuddles but also in the girls who talked to their mothers on the phone.
According to MSNBC's Linda Carroll,
The study results may not apply to every mother-child pair. Pollak allows that when relationships are more complicated and there is tension involved, mom’s voice might not be so soothing.
“The reason we chose pre-pubertal children is that, for the most part, they still really do like to be comforted by their parents. As kids get older the relationship can get more complicated and strained.”
Pollak says he’d like to explore the effects of a mom’s voice in those complicated relationships in future research.
No kidding. I think my mother's voice probably would raise my cortisol levels.