Emotions and voices rise simultaneously. Now you’re shouting and he’s shutting down. It’s the same old argument. You want to spend the holiday with your parents and he…doesn’t. Round and round you go until you’d like nothing better than to hit him over the head with a frying pan, stunning him into a permanent state of acquiescence.
Take a deep breath before you reach for that kitchen cliche — there may be a better way to resolve your differences. If current research is any indicator, a little spritz of the “love drug” oxytocin may be just what the peace process ordered.
A recent article in Time magazine pointed to the encouraging results of two studies involving oxytocin — a chemical neurotransmitter traditionally associated with childbirth, orgasm, breast feeding and social interaction — as outlined by the medical journal, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
Forty-seven heterosexual couples participated in the first experiment, which divided them into two groups, those given a dose of oxytocin and those given a placebo, before sitting down to discuss a contentious issue. The results, videotaped by researchers, suggested that oxytocin played a positive role in the debate, making men more “cooperative” and “attentive,” says Time and their female partners more “approachable” and “friendly.”
In a separate, second study, oxytocin appeared to significantly increase the ability of participants, those lacking particular social skills, to interpret emotional cues conveyed through facial expressions.
Researchers express cautious optimism that the hormone may one day prove to be an effective treatment for some of the symptoms of autism, playing a “critical role” in “social attachment and social cognition,” according to an expert quoted in the article.
The story cites the case of an adolescent girl suffering from autism who improved in her level of social engagement after months of therapy involving a daily dosage of the drug. There are some concerns — oxytocin can sometimes generate distrust towards strangers. Nevertheless, it’s gratifying to think that the peaceful resolution of where to spend Thanksgiving may one day be only a spritz away.
Looking for a way to improve your communication? Read this for 30 ways to change your relationship now.