Men & The Science of Attraction

Why do some men cheat and others remain monogamous?  It may come down to the genes!  Neuroscientist Larry Sherman, Ph.D., joined us to talk about the science behind male attraction:

  • Have studies of animal behavior lead to hints about why some of us stay in committed relationships while others can't seem to settle down? The most interesting data on this comes from studies in Prairie Voles.  These little rodents are unusual in that they mate for life and the males help raise the young (only 5% or all animal species are monogamous).  It turns out that Prairie Voles, unlike other voles, have more of a protein (called the vasopressin receptor) that responds to the neurochemical vasopressin than other voles. 
  • How do we know that vasopressin or its receptor are really linked to this behavior? When other voles or even mice - who are quite promiscuous - were given more of this protein, they too became monogamous and helped raise the young.
  • Do these same neurochemicals promote monogamous behavior in humans? It might.  Human males with an altered vasopressin receptor gene are less committed than others
  • Is there a way to reverse these behaviors in humans?  There are ongoing studies using a related neurochemical - oxytocin - to test if it may make men more committed.  A sort of an "anti-divorce" potion, more than a "love potion"


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