Mix a bit of something that affects oxytocin levels into, say, a flu shot and suddenly, the public believes everything politicians, religious leaders, used car salesmen, Fox talk show hosts and others say without question. Now about that $5000 you owe me. Of course you owe it to me. Would I lie?

[Over] the past 10 years, oxytocin has come up in the world, and several researchers have begun making big claims about it. Now dubbed “the trust hormone,” oxytocin, researchers say, affects everything from our day-to-day life to how we feel about our government.

To understand the role that oxytocin plays in your own life, consider the experience of a small 9-year-old girl named Isabelle. [… who] has Williams syndrome, a rare genetic disorder with a number of symptoms. The children are often physically small and often have developmental delays. But also, kids and adults with Williams love people and are pathologically trusting: They literally have no social fear.

Researchers theorize that this is probably because of a problem with the area in their brain that regulates the manufacture and release of oxytocin. Somehow, the system in which oxytocin operates has been disrupted in a way that makes it essentially biologically impossible for kids like Isabelle to distrust.
Zak first got interested in trust more than a decade ago after co-authoring a study that looked at trust levels in different nations and their economic stability. The study found that the higher the level of trust, the better the economic status of the nation.

The work got Zak thinking more generally about different ways to manipulate trust. […] Squirt oxytocin up the nose of a college kid, and he’s 80 percent more likely to distribute his own money to perfect strangers.

“We convert him, we capture his inner mind, we reshape him. We burn all evil and all illusion out of him; we bring him over to our side, not in appearance, but genuinely, heart and soul. We make him one of ourselves before we kill him. […] We make the brain perfect before we blow it out.”
— George Orwell – 1984

  1. Animby says:

    Oxytocin has a very short period of action. It’s half life in the human body is only about five minutes. Get it in your flu shot and it’ll wear off before you get out of the doctor’s office.

  2. bseer says:

    But you still won’t be able to stomach Keith Olbermann.

  3. UncDon says:

    Ahhh… but during that time, the doc could have you believe being a Republican ain’t all bad. He would instill … a lingering doubt.

  4. Uncle Patso says:

    People are not robots; we do not have a “Trust” switch or button that can be pushed in any circumstance. The actions and interactions of mind or mood altering substances are extremely complex and complicated. If you want someone to feel well disposed toward you, you are better off sharing a good meal and good conversation with them than dosing them with some hypothetical trust drug.

  5. Uncle Dave says:

    #1: Now. But once they understand the mechanism, they should be able to make a long lasting version.

    #4: You really need to study the area more. We are chemical robots who can be vastly affected by altering our body and brain chemistry. For good and for bad. Yes, the interactions are complex, but some aren’t, and for the complex ones, time and desire are in the researcher’s favor.

  6. admfubar says:

    ah just put in a time release formula, or say an “nicotine” patch..
    or as a food additive :O

  7. admfubar says:

    wow had another glitch here, the posting.php was unavailable for a moment..

    been noticing more troubles here with the blog..
    are the servers ok john???

  8. bobbo, the more you know, the more you want to know says:

    Similar is the idea that “true love” is just the your brain on dopamine and later oxytocin as well. Last week a post revealed that the white tunnel leading to god, heaven, and our loved ones was an increase in co2 levels.

    Lots of religious talk that our essence, our soul, our consciousness is somehow separate and apart from the mere physical, from the chemicals of brain function.

    But the more we learn, the more we are just biological computers/machines. Consciousness/Self Awareness ((for those limited few who actually do experience such things)) is a sublime mystery. Will we ever know ourselves “completely?”

    I doubt it, more likely an asymptotic goal coming only ever closer. Too much interaction with the environment I think.

    Glad I’m on my hind legs so I can rally if not march in the science parade.

  9. bobbo, the more you know, the more you want to know says:

    Speaking of science on tv right now a lecture series from UCSB and an engineer just said that actual MEASURED energy peformance of buildings in California vary widely from the design to specs. He says the design specs “on average” are working to lower energy needs but each building itself is variable. Why? Because the design spec is based on “modeling” whereas the actual performance is based on actual measurement.

    Skeptic==just more weight on the notion that “modeling is not proof” unless that average thing is the critical path.

  10. lynn says:

    ” The study found that the higher the level of trust, the better the economic status of the nation.” Some scientist. Which one is the independent (causal) variable – the trust, or the economic status?

  11. NelsonOH says:

    If the story has merit, then let’s not overlook the obvious delivery channel. Our tap water.

  12. bobbo, using tv as a lens on society says:

    Nelson–you propose a very facile delivery system there.

    Nice website.

  13. mike says:

    Hey dave, sounds to me like you have already gotten a dose of it. Keep on attacking Fox, libtard, your hot air is like the warm breeze that dries your behind on the newer model bidets.

  14. NelsonOH says:

    bobbo-I consider your compliment to be high praise and I thank you.

  15. Skeptic of the AOBCCS says:

    Re#1 Animby, it sure is nice to have a resident doctor on DU. I’ve had this terrible congestive cough, runny nose itchy eyes… and I’m almost positive it’s an allergy to tree pollen. My wife has it now and she says I gave her a cold. Am I right? Or more importantly, is she wrong? Where can I get some oxytocin? (cough, cough, cough, hack!, hack!, hack!…)

  16. Animby says:

    #14 Skeptic : Sounds suspiciously like prostate enlargement. Bend over and say AHH…

  17. Skeptic of the AOBCCS says:

    Re#8 bobbo the all knowing, re: “Skeptic==just more weight on the notion that “modeling is not proof” unless that average thing is the critical path.”

    … and there are so many buildings to build to test, whereas we can neither build nor test actual climate. Frustrating.

    For the topic at hand, I envision a catalyst additive in gasoline that converts exhaust into C43-H66-N12-O12-S2 (Oxytocin). That should take care of CO2, eh?

    I wonder if Oxytocin heats or cools the atmosphere? … meh, who cares…

  18. Skeptic of the AOBCCS says:

    Re #15 Animby: “Bend over and say AHH…”

    I’m not falling for that one… again.

  19. bobbo, better living thru chemistry says:

    Ha, ha. Yea–when you hear Animby say “I’m only using three fingers”–he’s not joking, he’s lying!!!

    But chemistry speaking–gosh thats a large molecule. It can’t just be luck that the human brain evolved to interact that way with a chemical that just happened to evolve to fulfill that interaction, could it?? Just read after decades of study we still don’t have a good grasp of how chlorophyll captures and converts sunlight into all the good things it does. With complete mastery, will we know there are real limits to renewable energy, or will such knowledge unlock energy too cheap to meter? Isuspect more the later than the former.

    I wonder if it could ever be cost effective to turn car exhaust into oxycontin. I assume it can be done, just the cost effect part.

    Doesn’t the compressed air car make a whole lot of sense?


  20. bac was blinded by science says:

    Well, the delivery system has be done in such a way so that certain key people do not intake oxycontin.

    If wide spread use seems a bit complicated for right now, there is the application for local treatment.

    For example: the Catholic church could put it in the blood of jesus. There is already a bit of trust with the church which would be amplified. Church people will become hyper zealots. An interesting side effect will be less choir boys talking about molestation. All choir boys will really trust their priest.

    Schools and activity clubs could also benefit from some extra trust.

  21. bobbo, WAR, its how we learn geography says:

    Hah–bac you raise a good point. Who are all these choir boys who deny their faith as revealed by Gods servants on earth? Who are these blasphemers who do not submit to buggery as commanded by God?

    The Church really does need to give this apostasy a deeper look and not just cave in to media pressure.

  22. deowll says:

    #10 I think they confused cause and effect. The better the economy the more confident and willing to trust people are.

  23. DoctorWally says:

    Ok, does the CIA know about this? Much easier than waterboarding. Get the dosage just right and they trust you and tell you everything. Not even torture, it’s “trust”. (Gawd, I see Big Brother everywhere…. sorry.)

  24. Animby says:

    A woman’s body is heavily awash in oxytocin at the time of birth. Which is probably why they still the trust the doctor that has just overseen the cruel assault on their pelvis.

  25. lynn says:

    #25, it’s why they still trust the guy who got them in the predicament.

  26. soundwash says:

    -so that’s what they’ve been putting in the kool-aid..


  27. Glenn E. says:

    Trust me, the government would not be out to create long lasting Oxytocin. It would be a nightmare to the US military war machine. Soldiers wouldn’t be able to fight, an enemy they couldn’t distrust or fear. And since war is one of America’s largest profit making ventures. It far more likely that the research would be funded to go the opposite extreme. Eliminating conscientious objection and compassion. And since US military personnel are compelled to receive all flu shots. Well……


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