What is the characteristic that you view as the most important in a partner? Is it sense of humor, how attractive they are, kindness?
Well a recent study showed that the top characteristic we look for is loyalty (Emond and Eduljee, 2014). So what is it that makes someone loyal?
Recently researchers have been looking at the properties of a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone which is produced both during orgasm and child birth to promote bonding between either partners or parent and child.
Now that we have developed a way to produce this hormone we can run some interesting tests in other situations and see if this will affect peoples behaviour.
One study attempted to see if men could be tempted into a potential cheating situation after having taken this hormone. The theory being that if men had taken the hormone then they would be more attracted to other people in the room.
To do this researchers first gave participants either oxytocin or a placebo via a nasal spray.
Then the most attractive female researcher from their team stood close to the participants, starting at 2 feet and moving closer or further away. The participants were asked to rate when the researcher was at an ‘ideal distance’ and when she was too close, making them feel uncomfortable.
Interestingly the results showed the opposite of what researchers had expected. Men who had been given the oxytocin and were in a monogamous relationship felt the most uncomfortable at closer distances and stayed on average 4-6 inches further back than single men who took oxytocin or the placebo group.
The same result didn’t happen when they were approached by a man and all of the participants confirmed that they thought the female researcher was attractive.
Possible implications about this hormone might suggest that because you are used to experiencing this hormone with your long term partner then you are more likely to find the situation strange if you experience it with someone else nearby.
On the other hand this result might have occurred because the participants were in an experimental situation and didn’t try to flirt.
In any case it is obvious that this hormone can have a significant affect on male behaviours and the more of the hormone they experience with their partners then the less likely it is that they will display signs of attraction to other females.