It was known since a couple of years that oxytocin (OT) increases trust (Kosfeld, et al., 2005): in the Trust game, players transfered more money once they inhale OT. Now recent research also suggest that it increases generosity. In a paper presented at the ESA (Economic Science Association, an empirically-oriented economics society) meeting, Stanton, Ahmadi, and Zak, (from the Center for Neuroeconomics studies) showed that Ultimatum players in the OT group offered more money (21% more) than in the placebo group--$4.86 (OT) vs. $4.03 (placebo).
They defined generosity as "an offer that exceeds the average of the MinAccept" (p.9), i.e., the minimum acceptable offer by the "responder" in the Ultimatum. In this case, offers over $2.97 were categorized as generous. Again, OT subjects displayed more generosity: the OT group offered $1.86 (80% more) over the minimum acceptable offer, while placebo subjects offered $1.03.
Interested readers should also read Neural Substrates of Decision-Making in Economic Games, by one of the author of the study (Stanton): in her PhD Thesis, she desribes many neurpeconomic experiences.
[Anecdote: I once asked people of the ESA why they call their society like that: all presented papers were experimental, so I thought that the name should reflect the empirical nature of the conference. They replied judiscioulsy : "Because we think that it's how economics should be done"...]
- Kosfeld, M., Heinrichs, M., Zak, P. J., Fischbacher, U., & Fehr, E. (2005). Oxytocin increases trust in humans. Nature, 435(7042), 673-676.
- Stanton, A. A. (2007): Neural Substrates of Decision-Making in Economic Games. Published in: Journal of Dissertation Issue 1.Volume 1 (2007): pp. 1-63.
- Stanton, A. A., Ahmadi, S., & Zak, P. J. (2007). Oxytocin Increases Generosity. Paper presented at the Economic Science Association 2007 World Meeting.