WILLOUGHBY, Ohio — Late Wednesday afternoon, the business district in old downtown Willoughby was crowded with diners and people relaxing on benches along Erie Street.
Many of the men and women, who were enjoying the beautiful weather, were also texting and tweeting on their cellphones.
Little did they know, new research shows they were all experiencing a significant biological reaction.
According to a study conducted by Dr. Paul Zak at Claremont Graduate University in California, humans release oxytocin also known as the “love hormone” while communicating through social media websites, and instant and text messaging.
“The brain doesn’t really distinguish between real interaction and texting,” said Dr. Zak.
Oxytocin is a hormone that is also released during sex, causing people, especially women to feel a greater bond for their partner.
It’s also helps reduce cortisol which is the primary stress hormone and has been known to influence a person’s charitable giving.
According to the research, women release 20% more oxytocin then men.
“I’m not sure I’ve noticed feeling like that, but it does make sense the way girls are more social,” said Jordyn Maldonado. “You do feel like a connection, like you’re closer to the person,” added Catherine Passalacqua.
The study also found that the so-called hormonal high that occurs can happen within seconds of the texting, and last up to a half hour after the on-line connection.
“I mean it’s interesting because it does feel good,” said Hannah Scotese.
Some men seemed less interested in the research and said they prefer face-to-face communication.
Louis Hagney joked, “If that’s all it takes, I’m gonna change my relationship with my wife. We’re gonna text all the time, and she’ll be happier right?”
Dr. Lori Stevic-Rust, a board certified psychologist, says that’s exactly why men and women are so different.
At her private practice in Willoughby, she has treated many couples and studied various genetic studies involving the sexes.
She says, “What we think and how we feel and behave clearly makes changes in the brain and body because the mind and body are absolutely connected. This study is just another example of how that is the case.”
Dr. Stevic-Rust says the research shouldn’t be viewed as good or bad but educational.
Men and women will always communicate differently, and people should expect and accept that and not set unreal expectations for one another.
And the fact that women release more oxytocin during texting or Facebooking can also be seen as a positive, because oxytocin is also linked to stress reduction, charitable giving and nurturing behaviors.
In the end, nothing can replace real human connections and bonds.
“We are creatures of human connection,” said Dr. Stevic-Rust, “It can’t be in lieu of, we have to find a way to incorporate some of it, but we can not lose that human connection that’s what drives us.”