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Salivary Bioscience News

I love you from the bottom of my hypothalamus: Pair bonds & the stress response system

I love you from the bottom of my hypothalamus: The role of stress physiology in romantic pair bond formation and maintenance

Author: Mercado E, et al. (2017), Social and Personality Psychology Compass

Monogamous pair bonds helped solve ancestral problems pertinent to our survival as a species. In order for these pair bonds to succeed, biological systems were co-opted to support and reinforce attachment bonds through feelings of pleasure and reward. One of the major biological systems that may play an important role in the formation of romantic attachments is the stress response system (autonomic nervous system and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis). Research suggests attraction, mate preference, and emotional connectedness may be supported by the activation or inhibition of the stress response system. Further, as romantic relationships progress, new findings suggest partners’ physiological patterns coalesce, potentially serving a regulatory function that reinforces the pair bond and affects overall well-being. Based on this evidence, the current paper puts forth the Physiology of Romantic Pair Bond Initiation and Maintenance Model, which will provide researchers with a new perspective on the function of the stress response system in romantic relationships.

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Keywords: HPA axis, stress, pair bonds, autonomic nervous system

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