Friends ‘better than morphine’ – Larger social networks release more pain-killing endorphin, University of Oxford reports
People with more friends have higher pain tolerance, Oxford University researchers have found.
Katerina Johnson, a doctoral student in the University’s Department of Experimental Psychology, was studying whether differences in our neurobiology may help explain why some of us have larger social networks than others.
She said: ‘I was particularly interested in a chemical in the brain called endorphin. Endorphins are part of our pain and pleasure circuitry — they’re our body’s natural painkillers and also give us feelings of pleasure.
Previous studies have suggested that endorphins promote social bonding in both humans and other animals. One theory, known as ‘the brain opioid theory of social attachment’, is that social interactions trigger positive emotions when endorphin binds to opioid receptors in the brain. This gives us that feel-good factor that we get from seeing our friends.