Natural Rationality | decision-making in the economy of nature


a new study in neuroeconomics

Paul J. Zak and Ahlam Fakhar, Neuroactive hormones and interpersonal trust: International evidence, Economics & Human Biology, In Press,
Corrected Proof, , Available online 18 September 2006,

Abstract: Social attachment is vital for human health and welfare. Recent experimental evidence in humans has identified the role of neuroactive hormones, especially the peptide oxytocin, in mediating trusting behaviors. Herein, we test if the endocrinological basis for trust between humans scales up to the country level. Trust pervades nearly every aspect of our daily lives, yet survey data on trust show substantial variation across countries. Using 31 measures of biological, social, and environmental factors associated with hormone levels for a sample of 41 countries, we find that two classes of factors are related to trust: consumption of plant-based estrogens (phytoestrogens), and the presence of environmental conditions that include measures of estrogen-like molecules. Our findings provide preliminary evidence that interpersonal trust at the country level may be related to the intake of neuroactive hormones.