Hormone Spray Shows Ability to Increase Sensitivity in Men

Males are often portrayed as being less sensitive to the emotional expressions of others, and while this trait does not apply to all men, it may be recognizable in a large percentage of the population. This relatively diminished experience of empathy may not have an explicit negative or positive value, though people who are challenged with schizophrenia and some other psychological issues may be at a disadvantage when unable to empathize. Developing treatments for this specific concern is one of the applications of recent research envisioned by the study’s producers themselves; after completing work at both Bonn University and Babraham Institute of Cambridge, scientists have found that the hormone oxytocin may be able to increase sensitivity to others in men.

The work was carried out through the use of a nasal spray delivery of oxytocin, which was delivered to a small test group of participants, while others received a placebo. After the administration of the spray, participants were shown emotionally volatile photographs depicting various people and situations that are expected to elicit feelings of empathy or sensitivity. In an additional experiment, participants were engaged in a computer-based task in which correct answers were rewarded with either an approving face or a green circle, and incorrect responses received a disapproving face or red circle. In both experiments, those men who had been exposed to the oxytocin nasal spray exhibited increased sensitivity to emotional stimuli, a result that may open the doors to more research in the future regarding this hormone and its potential.

Noting that oxytocin is typically linked to feelings of trust and love, and is released during orgasm, reviewers suggest that treatment with oxytocin may be able to help those with difficulty feeling empathetic experience more socially attuned interactions.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Gabriel


    May 2nd, 2010 at 2:38 PM

    Good article. This research has potential. It will be interesting to see where this goes in future. Here’s hoping it continues to be funded.

  • Wanderer


    May 2nd, 2010 at 5:05 PM

    “We are constantly protecting the male ego, and it’s a disservice to men. If a man has any sensitivity or intelligence, he wants to get the straight scoop from his girlfriend.” – Betty Dodson

    Sign me up for the spray! I know my limitations.

  • Jane F

    Jane F

    May 3rd, 2010 at 2:54 AM

    so now I know what the stocking stuffer for men will be this year at Christmas time



    May 3rd, 2010 at 4:27 AM

    Hmm…Oxytocin is the love hormone,sin’t it?Maybe that’s why the ‘feelings’ get enhanced when you are in love or similar situations…good study though.But I really doubt how far its application will go!

  • Craig H.

    Craig H.

    May 3rd, 2010 at 8:45 AM

    This research is not, dare I say, to be sniffed at. ;) I’d like to think I’m sensitive enough to not need this.

  • Niki


    May 3rd, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    although some men are pretty sensitive,most are not as sensitive as women.But that’s what sets them apart from the women,isn’t it?It’ll be no fun if both men and women are equally sensitive and agree on everything! ;)

  • irving


    May 3rd, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    Well,I would not want to be anywhere near that kind of a product,if it does hit the market…Most women,if not all,see over-sensitive men as GAY!

  • Star


    May 3rd, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    Great. Now I’ll never know if I found a man who truly is sensitive, or if he’s faking it with a nasal spray LOL. I’m not sure how I feel about this “progress”.

  • Paige


    May 4th, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    “Under normal circumstances, the “weak” sex enjoys a clear advantage when it comes to the subject of “empathy.”

    I am dismayed that the site allowed such outdated terminology to slip into their article. Putting “weak” in quotation marks doesn’t make it any less offensive. Empathy is a strength anyway!

  • Jacquie


    May 4th, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    I’d be glad to see my husband take a dose of this! He can be very insensitive sometimes to the point where it’s embarrassing in company how much he’s out of touch.

  • Tim


    May 5th, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    Not all women are sensitive and not all men are insensitive. Isn’t that gender stereotyping to suggest that’s so?

  • Elizabeth R.

    Elizabeth R.

    May 5th, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    I wonder if this drug has potential too for mothers that don’t bond with their child at birth. I didn’t. I kept expecting this overwhelming feeling as soon as I gave birth and it never came. Ever. And there are more mothers that felt the same and didn’t admit it. I love my child but missed out on that.

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