The new season of SAGE’s “Relationship Matters” podcast has begun! Hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, “Relationship Matters” brings you the latest from the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. In this season’s premier, Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad (Brigham Young University) discusses her research on the link between relationship quality and oxytocin.
Researchers have long been interested in the hormone oxytocin’s role in inducing labor in mothers and in promoting healthy bonding between mothers and newborn infants. Over the past decade, however, oxytocin’s role in adult romantic functioning has received increasing empirical attention. Some studies find that couples with higher relationship quality show higher oxytocin levels. Explanations for this association include (a) higher levels of oxytocin lead to lower levels of disagreement, (b) lower levels of disagreement lead to higher level of oxytocin, (c) both a and b, or (d) none of the above – some other variable is responsible. Interestingly, other studies find that those higher in distress have increased oxytocin – perhaps as a function of trying to promote or recapture relationship harmony.
In an attempt to tease apart these explanations, Dr. Holt-Lunstad’s research team (also consisting of Wendy Birmingham of Huntsman Cancer Institute and Kathleen Light of the University of Utah) studied 34 married couples that took part in an intervention and had oxytocin levels measured at two time points separated by four weeks.
Did couples with high relationship quality show higher levels of oxytocin or did those with more distress have increased oxytocin over time? To find out the answer and to get direct and simple tips on how to increase oxytocin in you and your partner, and thus potentially promote the quality of your relationship, listen to the podcast here.