New Research Finds Painting and Board Games Brings Couples Closer Together

Karen K. Melton

A new article published Feb. 12, 2019, in the Journal of Marriage and Family (JMF), examined the release of oxytocin, a hormone associated with romantic bonding, during the couple recreation activities of painting and playing board games. The research found that while oxytocin levels were elevated for both activities, men in the painting class had the highest amount of change.

The study — Examining Couple Recreation and Oxytocin via the Ecology of Family Experiences Framework (doi:10.1111/jomf.12556) — was led by NCFR member Karen K. Melton, Ph.D., CTRS,  an assistant professor of family and consumer sciences at Baylor University.

"We were expecting the opposite — that couples playing the board games would interact more because they were communicating about the games and strategies," said Dr. Melton, "or because they were competing, and with more interaction, they would release more oxytocin."

Dr. Melton, along with co-authors Maddie Larson, and NCFR member Maria L. Boccia, Ph.D., found the art classes became more of a bonding activity than expected due to partners interacting more with physical touch and words of encouragement to each other.

The researchers reported this is the first study to examine how distinct types of leisure are associated with oxytocin release, and that further studies would pay closer attention to when specifically the spikes are occurring.


February 2019 JMF and New Early-View Articles

JMF, published by NCFR, has been the leading research journal in the family field for more than 75 years.


The February 2019 issue (Volume 81, Issue 1) is free and open to the public. It features original articles on the topics of families and sex, union instability and dissolution, sibling and intergenerational ties, household labor, income and wealth, and parent-child relationships. 

View Table of Contents

Additionally, these new early-view articles are now available for subscribers:

The Wage Penalty for Parental Caregiving: Has It Declined Over Time?
Rebecca Glauber
Published online: Feb. 11, 2019 | doi:10.1111/jomf.12555

Do Family Relationships Buffer the Impact of Disability on Older Adults' Daily Mood? An Exploration of Gender and Marital Status Differences
Deborah Carr, Jennifer C. Cornman, and Vicki A. Freedman
Published online: Feb. 11, 2019 | doi:10.1111/jomf.12557

Intergenerational Exchange of Support in LowIncome Families: Understanding Resource Dilution and Increased Contribution
Josipa Roksa
Published online: Feb. 19, 2019 | doi:10.1111/jomf.12558

Published online: Feb. 18, 2019 | doi:10.1111/jomf.12563

If you're an NCFR member who subscribes to the Journal of Marriage and Familylog in to the NCFR website and visit our JMF access webpage to read the full text of these articles on the website of our journal publisher, Wiley Blackwell.

JMF access webpage