Product Reviews from a Scientific Perspective

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hormones and Behavior

I stumbled upon this article earlier today.

( -- Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus in the brain, and has been shown to make people trust each other more and promote feelings of love. But this hormone has now been found to have limits, since it promotes love and trust only towards people of the same "in-group" and not towards people who are seen as different. Psychologists have therefore concluded it is involved in ethnocentrism.

There's been a misunderstanding in the scientific community for quite some time. Lots of psuedo-scientists, and unfortunately, some scientists as well, believe that certain chemicals involved in the brain are responsible for certain behaviors or mental states. For example, testosterone is the "aggression hormone," and oxytocin is the "love hormone."

The problem here is that there's not a really good understanding of what is the cause, and what is the
effect. Is it the hormone that creates these behaviors and mental states, or are these mental states what causes the release of these hormones?

There's evidence for both sides, and it's very conceivable that it's both. Mental states cause the release of hormones, which then reinforces the mental states. Or hormones can also cause mental states, which then release hormones again.

To me, it's made more and more sense that its really the mental states that cause hormonal release in the long run. There's nothing inherent in the actual, physical hormone that demands that it be about love or aggression or stress. Rather, it makes much more sense to understand that it's a signal from one area of the brain to another to communicate. When you feel threatened, or that there's an emergency (totally your mental state and interpretation), your body releases adrenaline which gears your muscles up to go into action.

Will adrenaline make you feel like there's an emergency, or that you're in a threatening situation? Not quite, though you might feel much more energetic than when you wake up from a nap. But that's a far stretch to saying that adrenaline is a "panic hormone."

Likewise, it's a foolish mistake to believe that oxytocin is the "love hormone" or "ethnocentricism hormone," as if you can take someone out of their cultural context, ignore their personal beliefs and values, douse them in oxytocin and get some greater understanding about the fundamentals of human nature. It just doesn't work that way.

So what's this fundamental mistake that scientists have been making all this time?

It's the idea that the entirety of human reality can be explained through material terms. We're always looking for the physical explanation - something we can see, instead of feel. Something we can measure, instead of something we can understand. Something we can logically deduce, instead of intuitively induce.

Well, big news. You can't understand love this way. And you can understand human nature this way either.

Science is a tool for understanding the world around us. It's not a life philosophy. And like all tools, they have their useful situations, and not-useful situations. Just like you can't use a hammer (no matter how useful it is in nailing things together) to unscrew a screw, you can't use science to understand matters of human spirituality and ethics.

Using science to understand love is like using a hammer to unscrew a harddrive. You're just going to end up breaking what you're trying to understand.

Edit: Shortly after posting this, I found an advertisement for oxytocin sprays. Not only will they not work, they're ethically evil, because of the manipulative nature of them. I went ahead and banned them. If you see them again, please leave a comment so I know what to do. Thank you!

Edit again: I decided to remove my ban. Why? Because I know they couldn't possibly work anyway. Human beings are too complicated for people to abuse them. But you're more than welcome to check out those ads for a laugh.


  1. These both are much related with each-other. Your post is wonderful explanation about it. Really good article.

  2. Hormones are chemicals buried by specialized beef in the bloodstream, area they are transported to altered locations of the physique to act on ambition tissues, consistent in concrete and cerebral furnishings of a person. Each hormone buried by these glands accept a specific set of functions.

  3. Mental states cause the secretion of hormones, which then enhances mental states. Or they can also cause the mental states of hormones, which then secrete hormones again.

    Pharmacy Online

  4. This one is truly looking one of the most exotic contented post about hormones and behavior. I have amazingly found the relationship between Hormones and Behavior. This one is authentically looking just great information. Thanks for sharing.


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