Salivary oxytocin, cognitive anxiety and self-confidence in pre-competition athletes

Sci Rep. 2021 Aug 19;11(1):16877. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-96392-7.


It is well known that soccer sport has the potential for high levels of stress and anxiety and that these are linked to Cortisol (C) variations. To date, much research has been devoted to understanding how Oxytocin (OT) can affect anxiety in response to a challenge. The aim of this study was to investigate, in 56 young male soccer players, the psychophysiological stress response 96 and 24 h before one soccer match of a tournament, in order to establish whether athletes who won or lost, show different levels of C and OT or expressions of competitive state anxiety subcomponents. We found that winners had significantly lower Cognitive anxiety and higher Self-confidence scores than losers. Also, significant differences between winners and losers in C and OT concentrations were observed, with higher OT levels in who has won and higher C levels in who has lost. Our results showed interesting associations between OT, C, anxiety feelings, and the outcome of competition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / physiopathology*
  • Athletes / psychology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Hormones / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Oxytocin / metabolism*
  • Psychometrics
  • Regression Analysis
  • Saliva / metabolism*
  • Self Concept*
  • Sports / psychology*


  • Hormones
  • Oxytocin