The Kinsey Institute 

Sue Carter

C. Sue Carter, Ph.D.


Dr. Sue Carter is Director of the Kinsey Institute and Rudy Professor of Biology at Indiana University. A career biologist, Carter has studied the endocrinology of love and social bonds for more than three decades. She was the first person to detect and define the physiology of monogamy through her research on the prairie vole. These findings helped lay the foundation for the studies of behavioral and developmental effects of oxytocin and vasopressin in humans.

Carter joined the Kinsey Institute as director in the fall of 2014, making her just the seventh in the institute’s history. In this role, Carter has expanded the Kinsey Institute’s mission to include an emphasis on the science of love, nurture, and well-being across the lifespan.
 (812) 855-7686

Morrison Hall, Room 313
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405

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Research interests

  • Social bonding
  • Role of oxytocin in mental disorders
  • Traits of monogamy and pair-bond formation

Research focus

Dr. Carter studies social bonding, male and female parental behavior, the social control of stress reactivity, and the social control of reproduction—often using animal models such as the socially monogamous prairie vole.

Carter's research focuses on neuropeptide and steroid hormones, including oxytocin, vasopressin, corticotropin-releasing hormone, and estrogen. Her program has discovered important developmental functions for oxytocin and vasopressin and implicated these hormones in the regulation of long-lasting neural and effects of early social experiences.


  • Ph.D., University of Arkansas
  • B.A., Drury College (Springfield, MO)

Additional appointments

Carter is Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she co-directed the Brain-Body Center in the Department of Psychiatry.

Selected Publications


Carter C.S., Ahnert L., Grossmann K., Hardy S.B., Lamb M., Porges S.W., & Sachser N. (eds.) (2006) Attachment and Bonding: A New Synthesis. MIT Press, Cambridge MA.

Carter, C. S., Lederhendler, I. I., and Kirkpatrick, B. (Eds.) 1997. The Integrative Neurobiology of Affiliation. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 807. (Re-released by MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1999).

Articles & reviews

Carter, C.S. 2017. The oxytocin and vasopressin pathway in the context of love and fear. Frontiers in Endocrinology.

Yee, J.R., Kenkel, W.M., Frijling, J.L., Dodhia, S., Onishi, K.G., Tovar, S., Saber, M.J., Lewis, G.F., Liu, W., Porges, S.W., Carter, C.S. 2016. Oxytocin promotes functional coupling between paraventricular nucleus and both sympathetic and parasympathetic cardioregulatory nuclei. Hormones and Behavior, 80, 82-91. PMID: 26836772.

Yee, J.R., Kenkel, W.M., Kulkarni, P., Moore, K., Perkeybile, A.M., Toddes, S., Amacker, J., Carter, C.S., & Ferris, C.F. 2016. BOLD fMRI in awake prairie voles: A platform for translational social and affective neuroscience. NeuroImage (in press).

Rubin, L.H., Connelly, J.J., Reilly, J.L. Carter, C.S., Drogos, L., Pournjafi-Nazarloo, H., Ruocco, A.C., Keedy, S.K., Matthew, I. Tandon, N. Pearlson, G.D., Clementz, B.A., Tamminga, C.A., Gershon, E. S., Keshavan, M.S., Bishop, J.R., & Sweeney, J.A. 2016. Sex and diagnosis specific associations between DNA methylation of the oxytocin receptor gene with emotion processing and temporal-limbic and prefrontal brain volumes in psychotic disorders. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 1, 141-151. PMID: 26977453.

Kenkel, W.M. & Carter, C.S. 2016. Voluntary exercise facilitates pair-bonding in male prairie voles. Behavioral Brain Research, 296, 326-330. Doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2015.09.028. PMID: 26409174.

Carter, C.S. 2014. Oxytocin pathways and the evolution of human behavior. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 17-39.

Carter, C.S. & Porges, S.W. 2013. The biochemistry of love: An oxytocin hypothesis. EMBO Reports, 14, 12-16.

Carter, C.S. 1998. Neuroendocrine perspectives on social attachment and love. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 23, 779-818.

Carter, C.S. 1992. Oxytocin and sexual behavior. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 16, 131-144.

Public scholarship
Interviews Speaking engagements

Current grants


National Institutes of Health (NICHD), 2014-2019. P01, PI: C.S. Carter. DEVELOPMENTAL CONSEQUENCES OF BIRTH INTERVENTIONS. PI Project 1 and Core A.

IU Signature