Oxytocin spray – the ‘love hormone’ – is already being used by many marriage councilors as a therapeutic aid in ‘re-igniting the spark’. And scientific research is increasingly backing up this idea. In a 2012 study conducted by a team at the University of Zurich and published in the journal ‘Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience’, it was found that couples expressed greater positive behaviour towards each other when given puffs of oxytocin nasal spray :
Forty-seven couples, aged 20 to 50, who were married or had been cohabiting for at least a year, took part in the study at the University of Zurich. Couples chose a topic to discuss about which they continually disagreed, and then self-administered five puffs of either the oxytocin or a placebo spray.
Forty-five minutes later, each couple was left alone in a room and filmed while they talked about the subject that usually rubbed them up the wrong way.
At various times during the experiments, the researchers took saliva swabs to check for compounds that show how the nervous system is working. The results showed that, compared to those who had sniffed the placebo, women who had the oxytocin spray experienced a drop in nervous system activity, whereas in the men it went up. The men displayed increased positive behaviour; the women became more friendly.