Secrets to a successful marriage may lie in your nose as researchers have found a nasal spray that can help to take the heat out of arguments.
In the new study, researchers at the University of Zurich found that couples who sprayed themselves with a compound containing the hormone oxytocin before they discussed contentious issues later behaved more positively.
According to the researchers, the women who took part in the tests were more friendly, less demanding and less anxious, while men were more aware of social cues, more positive, and more likely to engage, the Independent reported.
Oxytocin is produced mainly in the hypothalamus region of the brain. It had been studied in women because it is released during labour to dilate the cervix, boost contractions and to trigger the release of milk in the breasts.
Forty-seven couples, aged 20 to 50, who were married or had been cohabiting for at least a year, took part in the study. Couples chose a topic to discuss about which they continually disagreed, and then self-administered five puffs of either the oxytocin or a placebo spray.
Forty-five minutes later, each couple was left alone in a room and filmed while they talked about the subject that usually leads to argument.
The results showed that, compared to those who had sniffed the placebo, women who had the oxytocin spray experienced a drop in nervous system activity, whereas in the men it went up. The men displayed increased positive behaviour; the women became more friendly.
In general, the researchers said, women tend to show demanding behaviour more frequently, while men tend to withdraw: "In our study, oxytocin might have driven quiescence in women and social salience and approach behaviour in men."