Oxytocin is a naturallly occuring hormone that is associated with emotional bonding.
Supplementing it has been shown to increase people’s ability to intuit the emotional states of others. Most notably, it works best for those who have the most trouble discerning how people are feeling.
Oxytocin appears to have a complex role in social cognition and behavior that goes beyond mere “trust.” One fascinating study showed that oxytocin administration improved the ability of subjects to correctly infer another’s emotional state when provided with a photo showing only the eyes.
And via Science Daily:
Oxytocin has also been referred to as a “mindreading” hormone. Recent research findings show that there may be some truth to these claims — although the mindreading component may have a more down-to-earth explanation…
“We found that oxytocin intensified test subjects’ awareness of the emotions present in the photos. Faces expressing anger stood out as angrier and less happy, and correspondingly, faces expressing happiness were happier,” explains Dr Leknes.
“We know that people express feelings in other ways than through facial expression alone, for example, by means of body language and vocalisation. We presume that our findings also apply for these modes of expression,” she adds.
“It turns out that those with the lowest aptitude for judging emotional expression properly — that is, those with the poorest scores during the saltwater round — were the ones who showed the greatest improvement using oxytocin. This is really fascinating; the people who need it the most are thus the ones who get the most out of using the hormone,” Dr Leknes points out…
“If it turns out that our assumptions are correct, then we may be able to come up with a simple treatment that would mean a great deal for people who find it difficult to pick up on the social cues of their peers,” says Dr Leknes.
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