Love Hormone Works in Those Less-loving

NEW YORK, Sept. 22 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say the “civilizing hormone” oxytocin improves social cognition — but only in the less socially proficient.

Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Columbia University in New York find oxytocin — popularly known as the “hormone of love” — did not help the already socially proficient rate how other people were feeling any more accurately.

The study, published in Psychological Science, finds less socially proficient participants performed poorly on placebo, but significantly better on oxytocin. In fact, on oxytocin, their empathic accuracy performance was identical to that of socially proficient participants.

“Oxytocin is widely believed to make all people more empathic and understanding of others,” lead author Jennifer Bartz of Mount Sinai says in a statement. “Our study contradicts that. Instead, oxytocin appears to be helpful only for those who are less socially proficient.”

Bartz and colleagues conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over challenge — asking 27 healthy adult men given either oxytocin or a placebo delivered nasally to perform an empathic accuracy task.

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