Oxytocin, the so-called “cuddle chemical,” plays a role in pregnancy, lactation, and social bonding. New research in Psychoneuroendocrinology shows that it also may make us more accepting of others.
Scientists at the University of Freiburg in Germany has proven that one can sharpen self-other differentiation in the brain. The researchers asked 44 participants to watch photos of their own face morph into those of strangers (and vice versa) on a computer screen and were asked to press a button as soon as they thought the morphing photo had changed into the other face. Those that received oxytocin instead of placebo were faster at pressing the button to indicate that they were seeing a new face, and rated the unfamiliar faces as more pleasant than controls.
Researchers believe that these results indicate oxytocin promotes a stronger self-other differentiation, which has been linked to greater feelings of emotional security and self-confidence.
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