“The couple that paints together, releases oxytocin together!”
– Dr. Karen K. Melton Ph.D., assistant professor of child and family studies in Baylor’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. ?
We were ecstatic a couple of years ago when Baylor approached Painting With a Twist about a research study to determine how different family interactions caused spikes (or lulls) in the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin, AKA the “love hormone” is a hormone that plays a role in social bonding between couples. Check out a summary of some pretty interesting insights from Dr. Melton below from an interview we conducted with her!
Q: How did the idea for this study come about?
A: Working specifically with family studies, we really wanted to understand how different interactions affected the natural oxytocin levels of individuals participating in family activities. We chose two activities to test with participants: board games and a painting experience with Painting with a Twist.
Q: What did your colleagues think when you came to them with this idea?
A: They loved the idea. When we presented the idea to the National Council to receive the grant for the study, they loved the idea as well and were excited to hear the findings.
Q: Did the findings surprise you?
A: We hypothesized that all activities would release oxytocin but that board games would likely release more. What surprised us the most was that not only did painting release MORE oxytocin but men in the painting group had 2-2.5 times the oxytocin levels of other groups (even other women!) What’s interesting too is that people who were in the painting group had higher levels of oxytocin at their baseline than board game participants leading us to the idea that the novelty of the concept and physical environment play a key role in the release of oxytocin as well.
Q: What was your personal experience at Painting with a Twist?
A: When we had the idea of the study, I took my team for the experience and everyone really enjoyed it. I still have my painting in my bedroom because I’m so proud of it. What I think is really great about the concept is it takes away a lot of the work when it comes to family leisure. Somebody in the relationship has to do the work of setting up the activity. With this, it’s all done for you so you can enjoy a true state of leisure. And when it comes to the actual activity of painting, you are challenged but certainly not overwhelmed.
Q: Are you looking forward to returning to Painting with a Twist?
A: Absolutely! I think it’s a great concept. I’ve seen some kid-friendly options posted so I’m looking forward to taking my daughter for mother/daughter date night.
Q: What do you hope comes about based on your study results?
A: Well, we certainly know more than we did before the study. We can make a lot of assumptions with recreational activities but it’s great to be able to measure the true experience. Ultimately, we would like to study different types of interaction to find out exactly what activities and factors release oxytocin. This information can help facilitate better experiences and family interaction so individuals and couples can connect at a deeper level.
There you have it! Painting = more oxytocin = more love in the air. So if you’re planning your next date night, find a Painting with a Twist studio near you and give it a whirl! You might walk away with not only amazing paintings but a new sense of connection with your significant other. Cheers!