Mutual influences between partners' hormones shape conflict dialog and relationship duration at the initiation of romantic love

Inna Schneiderman, Yaniv Kanat-Maymon, Orna Zagoory-Sharon, Ruth Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations

Abstract

Early-stage romantic love involves reorganization of neurohormonal systems and behavioral patterns marked by mutual influences between the partners' physiology and behavior. Guided by the biobehavioral synchrony conceptual frame, we tested bidirectional influences between the partners' hormones and conflict behavior at the initiation of romantic love. Participants included 120 new lovers (60 couples) and 40 singles. Plasma levels of five affiliation and stress-related hormones were assessed: oxytocin (OT), prolactin (PRL), testosterone (T), cortisol (CT), and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). Couples were observed in conflict interaction coded for empathy and hostility. CT and DHEAS showed direct actor effects: higher CT and DHEAS predicted greater hostility. OT showed direct partner effects: individuals whose partners had higher OT showed greater empathy. T and CT showed combined actor-partner effects. High T predicted greater hostility only when partner also had high T, but lower hostility when partner had low T. Similarly, CT predicted low empathy only in the context of high partner's CT. Mediational analysis indicated that combined high CT in both partners was associated with relationship breakup as mediated by decrease in empathy. Findings demonstrate the mutual influences between hormones and behavior within an attachment bond and underscore the dynamic, co-regulated, and systemic nature of pair-bond formation in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-351
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Neuroscience
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Correspondence should be addressed to: Ruth Feldman, Department of Psychology and the Gonda Brain Sciences Center, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel 52900. E-mail: [email protected] This work was supported by the German-Israeli Foundation [grant number 1114-101.4/2010]; the US-Israel Bi-National Foundation [grant number 2011349]; I-CORE Program of the Planning and Budgeting Committee and The Israel Science Foundation [grant number 51/11]. Drs. Schneiderman, Kanat-Maymon, Zagoory-Sharon, and Feldman have no conflict of interest to disclose. This article was originally published with errors. This version has been corrected. Please see Corrigendum http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/ 17470919.2014.903712

Funding

Correspondence should be addressed to: Ruth Feldman, Department of Psychology and the Gonda Brain Sciences Center, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel 52900. E-mail: [email protected] This work was supported by the German-Israeli Foundation [grant number 1114-101.4/2010]; the US-Israel Bi-National Foundation [grant number 2011349]; I-CORE Program of the Planning and Budgeting Committee and The Israel Science Foundation [grant number 51/11]. Drs. Schneiderman, Kanat-Maymon, Zagoory-Sharon, and Feldman have no conflict of interest to disclose. This article was originally published with errors. This version has been corrected. Please see Corrigendum http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/ 17470919.2014.903712

FundersFunder number
US-Israel Bi-National Foundation2011349
German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development1114-101.4/2010
Israel Science Foundation51/11
Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education of Israel

    Keywords

    • Cortisol
    • Couple Conflict
    • DHEAS
    • Empathy
    • Oxytocin
    • Prolactin
    • Romantic attachment
    • Testosterone

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