Drug-induced social connection: both MDMA and methamphetamine increase feelings of connectedness during controlled dyadic conversations

Sci Rep. 2023 Sep 22;13(1):15846. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-43156-0.


MDMA is a stimulant-like drug with distinctive empathogenic effects. Its pro-social effects, such as feelings of connectedness, may contribute to both its popularity as a recreational drug and its apparent value as an adjunct to psychotherapy. However, little is known about the behavioral processes by which MDMA affects social interactions. This investigation examined the effects of MDMA (100 mg versus placebo; N = 18) on feelings of connectedness with an unfamiliar partner during a semi-structured casual conversation. A separate study examined the effects of a prototypic stimulant methamphetamine (MA; 20 mg versus placebo; N = 19) to determine the pharmacological specificity of effects. Oxytocin levels were obtained in both studies. Compared to placebo, both MDMA and MA increased feelings of connection with the conversation partners. Both MDMA and MA increased oxytocin levels, but oxytocin levels were correlated with feeling closer to the partner only after MDMA. These findings demonstrate an important new dimension of the pro-social effects of MDMA, its ability to increase feelings of connectedness during casual conversations between two individuals. Surprisingly, MA had a similar effect. The findings extend our knowledge of the social effects of these drugs, and illustrate a sensitive method for assessing pro-social effects during in-person dyadic encounters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Methamphetamine* / pharmacology
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine* / pharmacology
  • Oxytocin


  • Methamphetamine
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine
  • Oxytocin