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http://ssrn.com/abstract=750904
 
 

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Oxytocin Increases Trust in Humans


Michael Kosfeld


Goethe University Frankfurt; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); University of Bonn - Center for Development Research (ZEF)

Markus Heinrichs


University of Zurich - Psychology Institute

Paul J. Zak


Claremont Graduate University - Center for Neuroeconomics Studies

Urs Fischbacher


University of Konstanz - Faculty of Economics and Statistics

Ernst Fehr


University of Zurich - Department of Economics


Nature, Vol. 435, No. 2, pp. 673-676, June 2005

Abstract:     
Trust pervades human societies. Trust is indispensable in friendship, love, families and organizations, and plays a key role in economic exchange and politics. In the absence of trust among trading partners, market transactions break down. In the absence of trust in a country's institutions and leaders, political legitimacy breaks down. Much recent evidence indicates that trust contributes to economic, political and social success. Little is known, however, about the biological basis of trust among humans. Here we show that intranasal administration of oxytocin, a neuropeptide that plays a key role in social attachment and affiliation in non-human mammals, causes a substantial increase in trust among humans, thereby greatly increasing the benefits from social interactions. We also show that the effect of oxytocin on trust is not due to a general increase in the readiness to bear risks. On the contrary, oxytocin specifically affects an individual's willingness to accept social risks arising through interpersonal interactions. These results concur with animal research suggesting an essential role for oxytocin as a biological basis of prosocial approach behaviour.

Keywords: Trust, oxytocin, prosocial behavior

JEL Classification: C92, C72

Accepted Paper Series





Not Available For Download

Date posted: July 3, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Kosfeld, Michael and Heinrichs, Markus and Zak, Paul J. and Fischbacher, Urs and Fehr, Ernst, Oxytocin Increases Trust in Humans. Nature, Vol. 435, No. 2, pp. 673-676, June 2005. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=750904

Contact Information

Michael Kosfeld
Goethe University Frankfurt ( email )
Faculty of Economics and Business Administration
Grueneburgplatz 1
Frankfurt am Main, 60323
Germany
Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany
Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )
77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom
CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )
Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany
University of Bonn - Center for Development Research (ZEF) ( email )
Walter-Flex-Str. 3
Bonn, NRW 53113
Germany
Markus Heinrichs
University of Zurich - Psychology Institute ( email )
Ch-8001 Zurich
Switzerland
Paul J. Zak
Claremont Graduate University - Center for Neuroeconomics Studies ( email )
160 E. 10th St.
Claremont, CA 91711-6165
United States
Urs Fischbacher
University of Konstanz - Faculty of Economics and Statistics ( email )
Universitaetsstr. 10
78457 Konstanz
Germany
Ernst Fehr (Contact Author)
University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )
Blümlisalpstrasse 10
Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland
+41 1 634 3709 (Phone)
+41 1 634 4907 (Fax)
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