A relationship between oxytocin and anxiety of romantic attachment

Marazziti D, Dell’Osso B, Baroni S, Mungai F, Catena M, Rucci P, Albanese F, Giannaccini G, Betti L, Fabbrini L, Italiani P, Del Debbio A, Lucacchini A, Dell’osso L. (2006). A relationship between oxytocin and anxiety of romantic attachment. Clinical practice and epidemiology in mental health Oct 11;2(1):28


ABSTRACT: The formation of social bonding is fundamental for several animals, including humans, for its relevant and obvious impact upon reproduction and, thus, survival of the species. Recent data would suggest that oxytocin might be one of the mediators of this process. Given the paucity of data on the possible involvement of oxytocin in human attachment, the present study was aimed to explore the possible relationships between the plasma levels of this neuropeptide and romantic attachment in healthy subjects. Forty-five healthy subjects who volunteered for the study, were included in the study. The romantic attachment was assessed using the Italian version of the so-called “Experiences in Close Relationships” (ECR), a self-report questionnaire for measuring this parameter in adults. The results showed that attachment anxiety and oxytocin are positively linked in romantic attachment to a statistically significant degree (r = 0.30, p = 0.04), that is, the higher the oxytocin levels the higher the score on the anxiety scale of the ECR. The authors suggest the hypothesis that this link represents one of the biological processes resulting in those rewarding emotions related to romantic attachment.

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