Relationship quality and levels of the ‘love hormone’ Oxytocin

Relationship quality and oxytocin

Influence of stable and modifiable aspects of relationships

From Journal of Social and Personal Relationships

The main aim of this paper was to examine the competing hypotheses regarding the association between relationship quality and circulating oxytocin (OT). This study underscores the importance of considering contextual factors in understanding the nature of OT and helps explain differences between the findings here and other studies examining relationship distress.

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Prior studies report that couples with higher relationship quality show higher oxytocin (OT) levels, yet other studies report those with higher distress have increased OT. This study investigated these competing predictions in the context of a support enhancement intervention among 34 young married couples (N = 68). Preintervention marital quality (Dyadic Adjustment Scale) was examined for associations with plasma and salivary OT levels 4 weeks apart and for changes between these time points within the intervention group. High relationship quality, not distress, was associated with higher OT in both saliva and plasma at both time points. No significant interaction was found between marital quality and intervention condition; relationship quality and support intervention were both independently associated with higher postintervention OT levels.

Article details
Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Wendy C. Birmingham,  and Kathleen C. Light
Relationship quality and oxytocin: Influence of stable and modifiable aspects of relationships Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 0265407514536294, first published on May 23, 2014 doi:10.1177/0265407514536294



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