Tamarin Couples Get Matching Oxytocin Levels

Charles Snowdon, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found something surprising when he looked at cotton-top tamarins in long-term relationships (adult tamarins are monogamous): They had corresponding levels of oxytocin. If one had a high level, so did the other; if one had a low level, the other did, too. Overall, however, tamarins’ oxytocin levels are all over the map.
As regular readers of this blog will remember, the hormone oxytocin has been linked to our desire to connect with others and sense of trust. Tamarin partners that had high levels of oxytocin did more cuddling and grooming and had more sex than the tamarin pairs with lower levels of the hormone did. Might the frequency of these behaviors and the levels of oxytocin be directly related?
Snowdon thinks so. And he points out something really fascinating:

Males in a high-oxytocin relationship were more likely to initiate cuddling, and females were more likely to initiate sex. These males were initiating the behavior that the female needed for high oxytocin, and the females with high oxytocin were initiating the behavior that male partner needed for high oxytocin.

Category: Animal Studies


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