Trust, Morality — and Oxytocin


What drives our desire to behave morally? Neuroeconomist Paul Zak shows why he believes oxytocin (he calls it “the moral molecule”) is responsible for trust, empathy and other feelings that help build a stable society.

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3 Responses to Trust, Morality — and Oxytocin

  1. Brandon Cedeno January 23, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

    The video shows Paul Zak speaking on morality and how it may be connected to oxytocin. Paul Zak decided to have several experiments where he would take blood of patients under different situations. The experiment that seemed to stick out was the experiment in which Paul Zak had blood taken from people during an experiment to see how willing people were to trust others. It seemed to come out with a good correlation because it seemed the more oxytocin people had the more likely they would donate some of their earnings of the experiment.

  2. Olena Kharuk October 16, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

    It took Paul Zak ten years to discover what influences people’s morality. It is called oxytocin. The “moral molecule” is being produced in our bodies. Oxytocin can be found in the person’s blood or brain. “The moral molecule works like a gyroscope, helping us to maintain our balance between behavior based on trust and behavior based on wariness and distrust.” ( In other words, it makes us being more open, and increases our morality.
    The oxytocin is produced in our bodies when we get massage, dance and pray. It is also very interesting that eight hugs a day can make people very happy and increase the level of oxytocin in the body. I think everyone should know and use this simple and pleasant way to make someone happy, and simply stay happy too.

  3. Julia Garlock March 9, 2020 at 11:21 am #

    Paul Zak is a social researcher and in 2011 he spoke at a TED talk about the idea of morality and the human obsession of morality and people having morals or not having morals and the reason behind that. This field of research is often seen as controversial because people argue that there are either good and bad humans or if there is just simple science behind debunking the good vs. bad people or those labels even exist or apply to others. Paul Zak speaks about where morals come from and pinpoints it to oxytocin being responsible for morality. The ancient chemical oxytocin can be naturally found in the blood and in the brain and is released during activities like sex. Because of the standard effect oxytocin has on the human mind the researcher is able to hands on conduct and experiment of oxytocin. Because morality is an umbrella term for the characteristics of someone who would be described as a good person the researcher measured something smaller, trustworthiness. The researcher chose to measure this as the dependant variable in the experiment because of a previous successful study he conducted showing that countries rated with higher trustworthy people also were the higher rated prosperous countries. Going deeper into this study it has economic properties to the study. The proof that trustworthiness creates more prosperous countries also proves an increase in smart economics. To go into depth about the economic effects of this study it is hypothesized that it will create better markets and more lucrative transactions causing economic relief and help to decrease poverty internationally. The researcher of this study however was a very skeptical person, as it is important because a main component of the psychological foundation. In order to conduct the experiment the researcher invited the subjects into their and then used a universal currency to tempt them: money. They conducted this by telling one of the people in the experiment that they get ten dollars for doing the experiment and and have the ability to give an amount of their choosing of that to the other person in the experiment and that the value they send will be tripled in the person’s account. The other persons tested because they get a message saying they got that money because of person one in the experiment and gives them the ability to send the money back. This tests under the umbrella of morality because person one has the ability to give up a small portion of their money to triple another man’s fortune. The second person in the experiment is tested because they are given the chance to send back a portion of their money so that person one can get back their money they sent. This is a test of trust and morality because the first person has to trust the morality of the second person and trust that they will send the money back. The second subject must send the money back to pass as moral and to keep that foundation of a trustworthy transaction. This experiment showed in real scenarios that morals create better business transactions because there is a foundation of trust.

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