We see Love in Others Based on Chemicals Within Ourselves

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Our ability to define the strength of the relationships of others is heavily influenced by the chemical Serotonin in our own bodies, according to a new Oxford University Study.

The study took in a host of non-medically challenged volunteers, some of whom had their normal Serotonin levels lowered by medical process. Once lowered the researchers asked the individuals to scan through photographs and to rate the level of ‘love and intimacy’ that they felt to be shared by the couples in the photos. The findings were that the individuals who had the lowered Serotonin levels pointed to the couple in the photos and responded that there was a lower ‘romantic connection’ between the couples.

This was in comparison to the feedback that came from the individuals with normal levels of serotonin present in their bodies. Serotonin as we know aids us in battling depression, it is the ‘happy chemical’ and the results point to a new finding, in that people with depression could have this illness change those people’s perception of personal relationships.

The importance of serotonin in social behaviour cannot be underestimated according to the Oxford Professor who led the research, research funded by The Medical Research Council. Professor Robert Rogers said that Serotonin is not just important in our social behaviour, but it plays a huge role in psychological disorders too. The intention of the study was to demonstrate the very real handle that this chemical has on our judgment.

In particular the study found key facts through its mass of data that showed how the chemical can affect judgments on relationships and their ‘closeness.’

The importance of the research should not be underestimated. Symptomatic of depression is a loss of connection with those around us, and a breakdown of personal relationships. The doctor feels that the alterations in chemical levels actually change the way that people think about their partners and their relationships with them.

The importance of the study is fundamental to combating depression, as it is also a known that it is close personal relationships and not medication that are most capable to dealing with the condition in a positive way.  While good relationships can be the cure, it is also possible on the other side of the coin for bad relationships to trigger the condition of depression.

The serotonin levels were manipulated in the volunteers by the researchers through a process of giving amino acid ‘tryptophan’ filled drinks, and drinks that did not contain the amino acid. That particular amino acid is renowned for its ability to produce serotonin and as a consequence those who took it had elevated levels.

‘Although this is only a small study, the same patterns may well extend to the way we perceive our own relationships,’ said Professor Rogers. ‘Serotonin activity may affect people’s ability in depression to maintain positive or intimate personal relationships.’

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