The Times reports today that a passionate kiss releases a surge of oxytocin into the brain, making a lover feel happy, excited or relaxed. A study at Lafayette College, Pennsylvania found that kissing reduced the levels of cortisal (a stress hormone) in both the male and female participants, raised the levels of oxytocin in the male volunteers, but unexpectedly, not the women.
This was an unexpected result but Hill and her co-researchers believe the fact that the tests were carried out in an unromantic campus health centre also played a part. Over the past year they have run the tests again in a softer setting complete with romantic background music.
I wouldn’t call it unexpected at all. From what is becoming manifestly clear, oxytocin is a chemical produced by the brain in order to promote long-term bonding. In an unromantic setting, it would clearly not be in a female’s interest to establish such bonding as a result of a sexual encounter. Of course, romance doesn’t play such a huge part in the male sexual response, thus it is no surprise that a man’s oxytocin levels can rise even in such an artificial lab style setting.