Oxytocin and the stress buffering effect of social company

  • Social relationships are a crucial determinant of both mental and physical health. This effect is partly due to social buffering of stress. Animal studies suggest that social buffering is mediated via the oxytocin system, while studies in humans are sparse and limited by the low ecological validity of laboratory settings. In the present study, participants (\(\it N\) = 326) completed smartphone questionnaires four times a day over 4 to 5 days, measuring stressors, negative affect, and social context to assess social buffering. We found that under stress, participants reported a higher need for social company. Further, the impact of prior stressful events on momentary negative affect was attenuated by the perceived pleasantness of current social company. This social buffering effect was moderated by haplotypes of the oxytocin receptor gene, based on two well-described single nucleotide polymorphisms (rs2268498, rs53576). Effects were robust when controlling for gender and age, applying different data quality criteria, and even apparent in genotype-based analyses. Our findings demonstrate that social buffering and its modulation by oxytocin system characteristics have implications for life as lived outside the laboratory.

Download full text files

Export metadata

Additional Services

Share in Twitter Search Google Scholar
Author:Maurizio SicorellaORCiDGND, Linda DieckmannGND, Dirk MoserORCiDGND, Vanessa LuxGND, Maike LuhmannORCiDGND, Wolff SchlotzGND, Robert KumstaORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):Social cognitive and affective neuroscience
Subtitle (English):a genetic study in daily life
Publisher:Oxford University Press
Place of publication:Oxford
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2021/02/08
Date of first Publication:2020/03/16
Publishing Institution:Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsbibliothek
Tag:Open Access Fonds; Stress; genetics
ecological momentary assessment (EMA); oxytocin; social buffering
First Page:293
Last Page:301
Article Processing Charge funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the Open Access Publication Fund of Ruhr-Universität Bochum.
Institutes/Facilities:Lehrstuhl Psychologische Methodenlehre
Fakultät für Psychologie, Lehrstuhl für Genetische Psychologie
open_access (DINI-Set):open_access
faculties:Fakultät für Psychologie
Licence (English):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY 4.0 - Attribution 4.0 International