Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Hormones Manipulate Behavior

The hormone oxytocin when sprayed nasally makes people trust others more with their money, so say Swiss researchers in the journal Nature ( Oxytocin, the hormone that causes uterine contractions and ultimately helps expel baby from mommy, controls lactation and mediates that "bonding" feeling.

When a close friend of mine decided to have her dim-bulb future ex-husband at her birth even though they were separated, I knew they'd get back together. Oxytocin in strong enough doses would make women bond with tree stumps if they happen to be present in the birthing room. Oxytocin is the hormone, if you need further convincing, that causes the mom to exclaim, "He is so beautiful!" when handed her pointy headed, blood-covered and squished newborn. Sure he's beautiful mom--in an ugly kind of way.

So now, a new field, neuroeconomics seeks to exploit this connection. How about perfumes sprayed through air-handling systems at the local Dillards (, or McDonalds ( where there would be more smelly competition or how about The Mirage in Las Vegas ( Scary huh?

Walking through the perfume department, you talk to a sales lady who says, "Why not try the perfume? That's right, honey take a big whiff." "Why thank you," you say. After smelling it you say, "I don't like the perfume, but what else do you have?" A whoosh of biochemistry later you buy $500.00 worth of cosmetics (wait, I have friends who already do that) and just feel warm and fuzzy about the whole experience especially about "that nice sales lady."

Don't think this won't happen. It will. But will it really work? If they get it all right enough, I'd say very possibly, yes. Link
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