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-   -   Study on oxytocin and monogamy (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=65898)

Dana 12-02-2013 02:35 AM

Study on oxytocin and monogamy
 
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/11/22/1314190110

SchrodingersCat 12-02-2013 03:18 AM

I only read the abstract, but I notice it's mono-biased. Basically, it presupposes that humans are monogamous and attempts to explain why.

They measured perceived attractiveness of partner vs non-partner women, both familiar and unfamiliar, under the influence of oxytocin. They did not measure attractiveness between multiple bonded partners, or between a legitimate partner and an infidelitous partner.

I couldn't access the full article through my university, but I'd be interested to see the numbers on the partners vs familiar vs unfamiliar women. They found that men are more attracted to their partners than to other familiar women, but the abstract didn't provide the margins or comparisons with unfamiliar women.

In my opinion, the findings are more indicative about what hormones are responsible for pair-bonding in males than they are about explaining fidelity or demonstrating a biological basis for sexual monogamy.

london 12-02-2013 07:09 AM

Yeah, it was a whole crock of shite.

Dana 12-02-2013 10:59 PM

I was left with so many questions. I see some connections between this article and the work of Helen Fisher, but the authors did not establish if this "oxytocin" response could be felt for more than one familiar face. Additionally, the article implied that those with a diminshed oxytocin response actually feel less attached to their partners. Hmmm. I know my experiences are anecdotal and could be so-called outliers in a data set, but if anything, my poly partners are more attached. There are simply so many possible confounds here, it makes me question how it was taken on as a research question. I'd also like to see the research on women too. I've seen studies on maternal rats showing their elevated oxytocin rates correlated to bonding with their young...but applying these concepts to poly/mono seems a stretch. Still, I find this sort of science fascinating and I hope there is more of it in the years to come.

Spock 12-15-2013 04:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by london (Post 251319)
Yeah, it was a whole crock of shite.

No it wasn't.

It just used different assumptions.

It's likely that had they tested poly men that they would have seen the same response for their multiple partners.

The research is valid in confirming that we have, and which compounds mediate, pair bonding in out nature. It affirms that men's brains can be programmed to diminish the attractiveness and appeal of other women under the influence of oxytocin.

london 12-15-2013 04:36 PM

I can't access the study from my phone but I remember from discussing it previously that how they picked the people for the study was flawed amongst other things. Brb.

Spock 12-15-2013 05:17 PM

http://m.jneurosci.org/content/32/46/16074

Here is another one.

My point isn't to attack your POV, I'm trying to explain that oxytocin has many well recorded 'bond' effects between people. It appears to support bonding between mother and child, romantic couples, and in reverse, reduce bonding between strangers.

If it works for self reported monogamous men, it's likely in effect with poly fidelitous men too. It's not like mothers kill their firstborn when the oxytocin helps her bond with her second child, after all.

london 12-15-2013 05:57 PM

I don't feel attacked. As I said, I can't access this article on my phone but the one I'm talking about was about the distance men kept from a woman after a dose of oxytocin.

SchrodingersCat 12-15-2013 07:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Spock (Post 254432)
It's likely that had they tested poly men that they would have seen the same response for their multiple partners.

In science, that's known as a "hypothesis" and not a "finding." When you do a study on a specific group of people, it's bad science to generalize outside the test group.

Honestly, we have no idea what they would find if they studied the brains of poly men, or men who have a history of cheating. It could very well be that poly men have fewer oxytocin receptors, and so their attraction to other women is less diminished under its influence. It could be that men who habitually cheat have almost no oxytocin receptors, and so they're as attracted to other women as they are to their partner(s).

Actually, I would find THAT study to be fascinating. It would go towards settling the "hard wired or not" question of poly inclination.

Quote:

The research is valid in confirming that we have, and which compounds mediate, pair bonding in out nature. It affirms that men's brains can be programmed to diminish the attractiveness and appeal of other women under the influence of oxytocin.
I don't think anyone needed a study to confirm "that" we have pair bonding, but this study didn't do that anyway. It assumed that these men were pair bonded, because the men said "this is my pair bonded partner."

At most, the study confirmed that oxytocin is involved in pair bonding. That's hardly worth a publication, it's been known for decades.

All it showed is your final point, that attractiveness of non-partners diminishes under the influence of oxytocin in men who identify as monogamous. And sure, that's a valid finding, and it may be interesting to the people who are interested in that kind of thing...

but

It says nothing about monogamy.

Quote:

The hypothalamic peptide oxytocin (OXT) has been implicated in mediating pair bonds in various species, but as yet, we know little about neurobiological factors that might act to promote fidelity, especially in men. Here we provide evidence for a mechanism by which OXT may contribute to romantic bonds in men by enhancing their partner's attractiveness and reward value compared with other women.
And we still know little.

This type of study is the reason why people in the hard sciences have so little respect for psychology and sociology as a "science." If you want to be taken seriously, you have to start with demonstrable assertions. If your whole study is based on a false assumption, then you haven't proven anything.

Dana 12-16-2013 01:00 AM

"This type of study is the reason why people in the hard sciences have so little respect for psychology and sociology as a "science." If you want to be taken seriously, you have to start with demonstrable assertions. If your whole study is based on a false assumption, then you haven't proven anything."

Ouch. This hurt my little neuroscientist feelings.


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