Sending an SMS might be easy, but catching up in person feels better. Jhaymesiviphotography
Things have changed. Much of the time we used to spend chatting with friends or strangers in person is now spent tweeting, texting or updating our Facebook status.
Although technology allows us to rapidly communicate, how these indirect interactions affect our bodies and minds is not yet known. A new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin – Madison suggests that not all human interactions are created equal – at least not biochemically.
Hormones govern everything about our lives – from fetal development and the uncomfortable coming-of-age we all experience during puberty, to our susceptibility to foods high in sugars, and the inevitable crumbling of our reproductive systems.
Of all the hormones coursing through our bodies, it’s the effect of oxytocin we’re perhaps most familiar with. That’s because oxytocin is the hormone responsible for delivering the euphoric feeling we associate with love.
Among its myriad roles, oxytocin is critical for strengthening bonds between people and reducing stress and anxiety. Without it, we drift towards a more narcissistic, manipulative, reclusive and sociopathic lifestyle. One could easily imagine an Orwellian dystopia should this simple molecule not exist.
Apart from the daily doses of oxytocin our body automatically produces, direct social interactions with people close to us trigger further releases. This is especially helpful after stressful events and explains why we share such personal experiences with close friends and relatives.
The words of support we hear from those close to us trigger a welcome release of oxytocin that reduces our feelings of stress.
But is it the words themselves or the tonal sounds conveying the meaning of those words that provides this comfort?
Want to read more? Click here to read the entire article from The Conversation.