Editor's Summary

2 June 2005

Trust in oxytocin

Little is known about the biological basis of trust in humans. But now a study of nearly 200 Zurich students playing an investment game with real money has come up with a finding of startling simplicity. The hormone oxytocin (applied as a nasal spray in this experiment) increases an individual's willingness to trust someone. Oxytocin had previously been found to have a key role in regulating positive social interactions in non-human mammals. This work may be expected to trigger a wave of new research on the biology of trust in humans. There could be clinical implications too, for patients with mental disorders associated with social dysfunctions, such as social phobia, autism and antisocial personality disorder.

News and ViewsHuman behaviour:  Brain trust

As is the case with other social interactions, financial transactions depend on trust. That fact is behind ingenious experiments that explore the neurobiological underpinnings of human behaviour.

Antonio Damasio

doi: 10.1038/435571a

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