Oxytocin and roses….

New Scientist recently got all romantic with an intrepid researcher’s chemical expose of her big fat geek wedding:

WE’D booked the venue, chosen the bridesmaids’ dresses and even decided on the colours of the table decorations. But finding a refrigerated centrifuge and a ready supply of dry ice in rural south-west England was proving tricky. Then there were the worries about getting blood on my silk wedding dress, and what to do if someone fainted.

Organising a wedding can be stressful enough, but we had a whole extra dimension to consider. We were turning it into a science experiment to probe what happens in our bodies when we say the words “I do”.

it is clearly difficult to measure complex emotions with simple games in the lab. For one thing, volunteers know their actions are being recorded, which may alter their behaviour. For example, people who share more money with other players are usually seen as more altruistic, but maybe they just care more about what people think of them. In reality, they might be quite selfish.

“We’re not sure of the motivation that drives behaviour,” says Richard Ebstein, also at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who studies the genetics of human behaviour. That is why scientists need to start looking at hormones such as oxytocin in real-life situations, he says. Like weddings.

That’s where I came in. Once Nic, my husband-to-be, had resigned himself to turning the most romantic day of our lives into a science experiment, I realised there were several additional hormones we could check at the same time….

Lovely story. Sigh. Just lovely.