Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Neurobiology of trust

The June 2008 issue of Scientific American has an article by Zak on the neurobiology of trust, and the hormone oxytocin. I've previously mentioned Zak's work, and if you enter 'oxytocin' in MindBlog's search box in the left column you will pull up numerous previous posts on oxytocin, trust, and affiliative behaviors, some of which the Zak article mentions (for example, inhaling a nasal spray containing oxytocin increases trusting behaviors). I thought I would show one graphic from the article relevant to the fact that trust is among the strongest known predictors of a country’s wealth. Nations with low levels tend to be poor. Societies with low levels are poor because the inhabitants undertake too few of the long-term investments that create jobs and raise incomes. Such investments depend on mutual trust that both sides will fulfill their contractual obligations.

4 comments:

  1. Pegah N8:39 AM

    I enjoyed the post very much. But as I was looking at the figure carefully I decided that it does n't seem to go very well with the facts. Is Iran or Taiwan wealthier than the US?!! I am an Iranian myself and to be honest I was really shocked when I saw this! I don't think people really trust eachother that much in Iran! And Iran is n't that much wealthy either! So I think either Iranian people lied to researchers (they simply think they trust other people but in action they don't!) or the conclusion-the more people trust eachother the wealthier that nation is- must be too simple and neglects many other factors.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good points. All generalizations are false, including this one......

    ReplyDelete
  3. So why point it out? It's a little like saying that people feel safer in areas with low crime rates. So what?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Trust is a complex sociological phenomenon. One really important factor is cultural homogeneity. You see this clearly at the neighborhood level. The most homogeneous neighborhoods have the highest level of trust within the community.

    ReplyDelete