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Hartselle Enquirer

A squirt of empathy

Women, the time of crying alone is over.
A recent medical study has discovered a nasal spray – similar to the ones we use for seasonal allergies – can increase empathy in men.
The spray is comprised of a hormone, oxytocin, that’s known to aid in creating social bonding. For some reason, some scientist thought it would be a good idea to try it on men with the goal of seeing if it would make them more caring and empathetic. Low and behold, it did.
The study involved 48 men and 26 women, each of whom took two empathy tests. In the first, the participants looked at photos to try and determine the person’s mood. The second tests involved looking at scenes and trying to determine the mood of those shown.
The study showed – no shock here – that women identified with the emotions easily. The men did OK on the first test but didn’t do so well at looking at a scene and judging the emotions of those portrayed.
No surprise there. Any woman who’s watched Julia Robert’s death scene in “Steel Magnolias” with a dry-eyed man could have saved you the time and money used in this study.
The men were then given a shot of the nasal mist. Suddenly, the men seemed to be able to identify emotions easier, gaining the empathy the women seemed to have naturally.
According to researchers, the effects didn’t last long.
“The men needed another squirt two hours later,” they said.
It seems the men’s empathy was like their attention span – short.
Researchers aren’t sure what to make of their findings, other than to say the spray shouldn’t be used by women as some sort of emotional revenge on less-than-caring men.
It does lead to some interesting possibilities. I know I’d love to have some of that nasal spray the next time there’s a mound of laundry waiting to be done or bags after bags of groceries to be brought in from the car. Heck, if we’re going to have this spray, why not aim a little higher? Maybe two squirts of the stuff will have Greg going to the grocery store on his own and then vacuuming the living room while telling me to go get a manicure.
The spray’s not been released to the public yet but I’m not waiting. I’m already making an empathetic-based to-do list, all of which can be done in two hours or less.

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