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Title: Sex-specific effects of intranasal oxytocin on autonomic nervous system and emotional responses to couple conflict
Authors : Ditzen, Beate
Nater, Urs M.
Schär Gmelch, Marcel
La Marca, Roberto
Bodenmann, Guy
Ehlert, Ulrike
Heinrichs, Markus
Published in : Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Volume(Issue) : 8
Issue : 8
Pages : 897
Pages to: 902
Publisher / Ed. Institution : Oxford University Press
Issue Date: 2013
License (according to publishing contract) : Licence according to publishing contract
Type of review: Not specified
Language : English
Subjects : Oxytocin; Stress; Couples; Marital Conflict; Human Sex Differences; Sympathetic Nervous System; Emotional Responses; Psychophysiology; Group and Interpersonal Processes; Paare; Partnerschaftskonflikt; Geschlechtsunterschiede beim Menschen; Sympathisches Nervensystem; Emotionale Reaktionen; Psychophysiologie; Gruppendynamik; Interpersonelle Prozesse
Subject (DDC) : 158: Applied psychology
Abstract: Unhappy couple relationships are associated with impaired individual health, an effect thought to be mediated through ongoing couple conflicts. Little is known, however, about the underlying mechanisms regulating psychobiological stress, and particularly autonomic nervous system (ANS) reactivity, during negative couple interaction. In this study, we tested the effects of the neuropeptide oxytocin on ANS reactivity during couple conflict in a standardized laboratory paradigm. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled design, 47 heterosexual couples (total n = 94) received oxytocin or placebo intranasally prior to instructed couple conflict. Participants’ behavior was videotaped and salivary alpha-amylase (sAA), a measure of sympathetic activity, and emotional arousal were repeatedly measured during the experiment. Oxytocin significantly reduced sAA during couple conflict in women, whereas men showed increases in sAA levels (sex × group interaction: B = −49.36, t = −2.68, P = 0.009). In men, these increases were related to augmented emotional arousal (r = 0.286, P = 0.028) and more positive behavior (r = 0.291, P = 0.026), whereas there was no such association in women. Our results imply sex-specific effects of oxytocin on sympathetic activity, to negative couple interaction, with the neuropeptide reducing sAA responses and emotional arousal in women while increasing them in men.
Further description : Erworben im Rahmen der Schweizer Nationallizenzen (
Departement: Angewandte Psychologie
Organisational Unit: Institute of Applied Psychology (IAP)
Publication type: Article in scientific Journal
DOI : 10.21256/zhaw-4322
ISSN: 1749-5016
Appears in Collections:Publikationen Angewandte Psychologie

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