The study’s lead author, Patty Van Cappellen, a social psychologist at Duke, said: “Spirituality and meditation have each been linked to health and well-being in previous research...we were interested in understanding biological factors that may enhance those spiritual experiences.”
According to Van Cappellen, Oxytocin has a different effect on females. Scientists are still investigating those effects -- a necessary task, given that the chemical is released when women breastfeed and during childbirth.
Van Cappellen cautioned against over-generalizing the effects of the love hormone, however. For example, the effects were not universal throughout the study. Respondents who recorded the highest degree of spirituality all shared a certain variant of the CD38 gene, which according to Duke Today, “regulates the release of oxytocin from hypothalamic neurons in the brain.”