Monday, July 1, 2013

Facebook Triggers The ‘Cuddle’ Hormone

Scientists now believe that Facebook triggers oxytocin
Facebook Triggers The ‘Cuddle’ Hormone

Scientists now believe that Facebook triggers oxytocin, also known as the "love" or "cuddle" hormone, which basically makes you feel like you're falling in love and that the world is a beautiful place full of butterflies and rainbows and adorable frolicking kitties and puppies. Scientists recently made a hormonal breakthrough in the growing world of social media. This explains why so many of us are addicted to the social networking sites. Studies revealed that when users engage with one another on Facebook, levels of oxytocin increase. Oxytocin is a chemical that has been dubbed the "cuddle hormone" because of its role in the mediation of emotional experiences - especially those associated with intimate relationships. Oxytocin is produced by the hypothalamus gland in the brain. Levels of oxytocin increase with physical contact, initiating a series of events that lead to arousal.

Dr. Paul J Zak, a professor at Claremont Graduate University who popularized "neuroeconomics," an emerging field that combines economics with biology, neuroscience, and psychology, performed a series of studies where a user’s blood samples were taken before and after using sites like Facebook and Twitter, and then again afterward. Sure enough, the samples afterward showed higher levels of the so-called “cuddle hormone,” while levels of stress hormones declined. In a series of studies spanning nine years, Dr. Zak has changed the understanding of human beings as economic animals. According to Dr. Zak Oxytocin is known as the hormone forging the unshakable bond between mothers and their babies and recognized as the human stimulant of empathy, generosity, trust, and more. Further Dr. Zak says, it’s the "social glue" that adheres families, communities, and societies, and as such, acts as an "economic lubricant" that enables us to engage in all sorts of transactions. His initial experiment was designed to examine the hormone’s broader role in human emotion and perception. In the course of that study, Zak found that people with higher oxytocin levels were more likely to donate to charity and respond positively to public service announcements.

While reporting on the study, FastCompany reporter Adam Penenberg volunteered to have his blood drawn before and after using Facebook and Twitter. Adam wanted to find out, are we biologically hardwired to do it? Do our brains react to social networking just as they do to our physical engagement with people we trust and enjoy? We may better understand why people with friends live longer and get sick less, and why we are compelled to be social animals online and off. If these changes apply in the world of social media, the implications for business -- for every brand, company, and marketer trying to understand the now intimately networked world -- could be significant. Yes, there may be a dark side to all this: What if corporations come to understand human behavior and its root mechanisms so well that they can manipulate our biochemistry to trick us into buying more? But that's a question for later.

Ultimately, the test results od Adam were that his oxytocin levels spiked over 13% after he started talking to friends, and his cortisol (a stress hormone) level decreased by almost 11% when he used social networks to engage. You can’t dispute the results, but you can dispute the conclusions. Now experts are saying that Facebook users can facilitate the production of oxytocin by simply engaging and interacting with their friends. Higher levels of oxytocin have been found to promote empathy and kindness and the effects of the hormone can last up to an hour after the virtual interaction takes place. The release of the cuddle hormone reportedly produces a calming effect and researches say that this effect has a lot to do with the social interaction that the Facebook platform provides.

From a brands point of view, in a world of social networks, Companies that can connect with us and raise our oxytocin levels should prosper. Those that can’t won't. The actual science behind the study is murky, and there’s no reason to immediately start clinging to Facebook and Twitter as a way to relieve stress. Additional study is required before anyone can claim that Facebook is the best thing for emotional well-being since anti-depressants and therapy.

1 comment:

  1. Nice! More info about Oxytocin on www.oxytocine.nl

    ReplyDelete