There have been prior reports of the connection between oxytocin and social capital and social trust; oxytocin works as a neurotransmitter and is produced from bonding between individuals and from the mothering process.
The latest reports are of a nasal spray of synthetic oxytocin to decrease social shyness.
University of Zurich researchers (Markus Heinrichs et al) have experimented with a nasal spray and are planning to conduct large scale tests. If these pan out, a product could be in the works in 5 years.
The spray increases social confidence and dissipates anxiety, making it easier for them for socialise with others.
The findings were formally presented at the International Brain Research Organization’s World Congress of Neuroscience in Melbourne, Australia this week.
The spray is reportedly very easy to use, and only requires squirting it up one’s nose. No reports of possible side-effects: likelihood of giving away the store? belief that a check actually is in the mail? belief that someone actually is selling me the Brooklyn bridge?
Background on oxytocin:
In addition to oxytocin being a byproduct of bonding between friends, it is also released from sex or mothers nursing their babies and is thought to accentuate the bonds between individuals.
A 2006 study by Domes et al in Biological Psychiatry reported that higher levels of oxytocin in the brain enhance our mind’s ability to read others’ emotions. Subjects whose oxytocin levels were mildly increased could infer significantly better, based only on eye cues, what a target person was thinking about. The effect was more pronounced for emotions harder to read through eye cues.
A 2005 study found that people sprayed with oxytocin were more trusting in a 1-on-1 cooperation game. (Nature magazine)