Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Psychology & Neuroscience


This study examines how Oxytocin (OT) and a placebo (PL) contribute to analgesia during heat pain. Social conformity and associative learning effects were replicated within a placebo analgesia paradigm based on other literature. Using an intranasal OT spray and a PL spray, the main aim of this study was to examine the effects of OT on learned pain perception using three different noxious temperatures, social and experience based cues, and hand holding support from a romantic partner. In contrast to other OT literature, this particular experiment found null effects of OT on pain ratings versus PL. OT did not keep the heat pain from being painful and did not enhance placebo analgesia. We suggest that OT may still yet be responsible for inducing these desired effects through auxiliary mechanisms, further research is needed into OT’s role in anxiolytic and gender effects of placebo.