Science People at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Child Emotion Lab have determined that a phone conversation with Mom can release in young girls as much of the calming and caressing chemical oxytocin as actual physical motherly love.
Sixty-one girls aged 7 to 12 were placed in a stressful situation: solve math problems in front of strangers; deliver an impromptu speech. After, some were allowed to hug their mothers, others were only able to talk to their mothers on the phone, while still others were compelled to watch March of the Penguins, which apparently put many of them to sleep.
The results? Oxytocin levels rose almost exactly as much in the girls who were comforted in person, as in the girls who’d been calmed via phone.
Oxytocin has been found to promote such qualities as generosity and empathy. It is believed that the chemical evolved to allow human beings to surmount their natural wariness of one another long enough to come into the close physical contact necessary to mate and thereby procreate. Without the stuff, apparently, we wouldn’t even be here.