Oxytocin — popularly known as the ‘love hormone’ — boosts feelings of spirituality, new research finds.
Men who took the hormone reported feeling more positive and with a greater sense of spirituality up to a week later.
Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter produced during sex.
It has already been linked to greater altruism, social bonding and other positive effects.
Dr Patty Van Cappellen, who led the study, said:
“Spirituality and meditation have each been linked to health and well-being in previous research.
We were interested in understanding biological factors that may enhance those spiritual experiences.
Oxytocin appears to be part of the way our bodies support spiritual beliefs.”
In the study, after taking the hormone, men took part in a guided meditation.
Those given oxytocin were more likely to agree with statements like:
- “All life is interconnected”
- “There is a higher plane of consciousness or spirituality that binds all people.”
During the meditation, those taking oxytocin were more likely to say they felt positive emotions like inspiration, hope, love, gratitude and serenity.
Dr Van Cappellen said:
“Spirituality is complex and affected by many factors.
However, oxytocin does seem to affect how we perceive the world and what we believe.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (Van Cappellen et al., 2016).