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The relationship of affiliative arousal to dopamine release

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Higher levels of affiliation motivation after exposure to affiliative films are significantly related to higher dopamine concentrations in saliva in one study of 61 college students of both sexes, and in plasma in another study of 47 adults of both sexes. Individuals high in dispositionaln Affiliation, if they also reported high life stress, showed high gains in dopamine concentration in plasma after exposure to an affiliative film significantly more often than other individuals. Since aroused affiliation motivation was not associated with higher concentrations of norepinephrine, epinephrine, or cortisol in either study, it appears likely that dopamine is especially associated with arousal of affiliation motivation, just as norepinephrine has been found to be associated with arousal of power motivation. Thus, different motives may be subserved by different hormones, making it unlikely that all motives lead to the same state of physiological arousal.

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This research was carried out when all the authors were connected with the Department of Psychology and Social Relations at Harvard University. We acknowledge with thanks the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation through a grant to the senior author.

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McClelland, D.C., Patel, V., Stier, D. et al. The relationship of affiliative arousal to dopamine release. Motiv Emot 11, 51–66 (1987).

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