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Chemical Improves Male Sensitivity

For many men it is difficult to display empathy. Unfortunately, this character trait often damages or challenges relationships as female partners want a companion that can connect on an emotional level.

A new experiment may have found a method to help men improve on their ability to connect.

German researchers studied a group of 48 healthy men. Half received an oxytocin nose spray at the start of the experiment, the other half a placebo.

The researchers then showed their test subjects photos of emotionally charged situations in the form of a crying child, a girl hugging her cat, and a grieving man.

The test subjects were then invited to express the depth of feeling they experienced for the persons shown.

In summary, Dr. René Hurlemann of Bonn University´s Clinic for Psychiatry was able to state that “significantly higher emotional empathy levels were recorded for the oxytocin group than for the placebo group”, despite the fact that the participants in the placebo group were perfectly able to provide rational interpretations of the facial expressions displayed.

The administration of oxytocin simply had the effect of enhancing the ability to experience fellow-feeling.

The males under test achieved levels which would normally only be expected in women. Under normal circumstances, the “weak” sex enjoys a clear advantage when it comes to the subject of “empathy”.

In a second experiment, the participants had to use their computers to complete a simple observation test. Correct answers produced an approving face on the screen, wrong ones a disapproving one.

Alternatively, the feedback appeared as green (correct) or red (false) circles.

“In general, learning was better when the feedback was shown in the form of faces”, states Dr. Keith Kendrick of the Cambridge Babraham Institute in England.

“But, once again, the oxytocin group responded clearly better to the feedback in the form of facial expression than did the placebo group”.

In this connection, the so-called amygdaloid nucleus appears to play an important role. This cerebral stucture, known generally to doctors as the amygdala, is involved in the emotional evaluation of situations.

Certain people suffer from an extremely rare hereditary disease which progressively affects the amygdala.

“We were lucky to be able to include two female patients in our study group who were suffering this defect of the amygdala”, says Hurlemann.

“Both women reacted markedly worse to approving or disapproving faces in the observation test than did other women in a control group. Moreover, their emotional empathy was also affected”.

Hence, the researchers suspect that the amygdala could bear some form of co-responsibility for the effect of the oxytin.

One of the effects of the hormone oxytocin is that it triggers labor pains. It also strengthens the emotional bond between a mother and her new-born child.

Oxytocin is released on a large scale during an orgasm, too. This neuropeptide is also associated with feelings such as love and trust.

Our study has revealed for the first time that emotional empathy is modulated by oxytocin, and that this applies similarly to learning processes with social multipliers, says Hurlemann.

This hormone might thus be useful as medication for diseases such as schizophrenia, which are frequently associated with reduced social approachability and social withdrawal.

Source: University of Bonn

Chemical Improves Male Sensitivity

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Chemical Improves Male Sensitivity. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 19, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/04/30/chemical-improves-male-sensitivity/13338.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.