The neurobiology of trust
Zak PJ, Kurzban R, Matzner WT.
Claremont Graduate University,
Claremont, CA 91711-6165.
Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Dec;1032:224-7


This is the first report that endogenous oxytocin in humans is related to social behaviors, which is consistent with a large animal literature. Subjects are put into a social dilemma in which absent communication, cooperative behavior can benefit both parties randomly assigned to a dyad. The dilemma arises because one participant must make a monetary sacrifice to signal the degree of trust in the other before the other's behavioral response is known. We show that receipt of a signal of trust is associated with a higher level of peripheral oxytocin than that in subjects receiving a random monetary transfer of the same average amount. Oxytocin levels were also related to trustworthy behavior (sharing a greater proportion of the monetary gains). We conclude that oxytocin may be part of the human physiology that motivates cooperation.
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