Trust

TRUST….Swiss researchers have discovered a hormone that increases your trust in fellow human beings:

Ernst Fehr of the University of Zurich and colleagues tested 194 healthy male students in a series of sophisticated games of risk and trust….Some players were given a whiff of oxytocin, some inhaled a vial of air. None of the players knew what they were sniffing and none knew whether the trustees were trustworthy or not: they had to make a decision. Those who sniffed oxytocin showed a greater propensity to trust someone than those who simply inhaled air.

But when the trustee was replaced with a computer, both sets of investors showed much the same judgment. So the oxytocin did not make the investors generally more gullible or profligate: the effect was only visible when they had to deal with another human being.

….”Some may worry about the prospect that political operators will generously spray the crowd with oxytocin at rallies of their candidates,” [University of Iowa researcher Antonio Damasio said] in Nature.

How sad that Lee Atwater isn’t around to take advantage of this development. Just think what he could have accomplished.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation