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Scientists Experiment With 'Trust' Hormone
Associated Press via Yahoo ^ | June 1, 2005 | JOSEPH B. VERRENGIA, AP Science Writer

Posted on 06/01/2005 11:31:52 AM PDT by Servant of the 9

Trust in a bottle? It sounds like a marketer's fantasy, like the fabled fountain of youth or the wild claims of fad diets. Yet that's what Swiss and American scientists demonstrate in new experiments with a nasal spray containing the hormone oxytocin.

After a few squirts, human subjects were significantly more trusting and willing to invest money with no ironclad promise of a profit.

The researchers acknowledged their findings could be abused by con artists or even sleazy politicians who might sway an election, provided they could squirt enough voters on their way to the polls.

"Of course, this finding could be misused," said Ernst Fehr of the University of Zurich, the senior researcher in the study, which appears in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. "I don't think we currently have such abuses. However, in the future it could happen."

Other scientists say the new research raises important questions about oxytocin's potential as a therapy for conditions like autism or social phobias, in which trust is diminished. Or, perhaps the hormone's activity could be reduced to treat more rare diseases, like Williams' Syndrome, in which children have no inhibitions and approach strangers fearlessly.

"Might their high level of trust be due to excessive oxytocin release?" asks University of Iowa neurologist Antonio Damasio, who reviewed the experiments for Nature. "Little is known about the neurobiology of trust, although the phenomenon is beginning to attract attention."

Oxytocin is secreted in brain tissues and synthesized by the hypothalamus. This small, but crucial feature located deep in the brain controls biological reactions like hunger, thirst and body temperature, as well as visceral fight-or-flight reactions associated with powerful, basic emotions like fear and anger.

For years oxytocin was considered to be a straightforward reproductive hormone found in both sexes. In both humans and animals, this chemical messenger stimulates uterine contractions in labor and induces milk production. In both women and men, oxytocin is released during sex, too.

Then, elevated concentrations of the hormone also were found in cerebrospinal fluid during and after birth, and experiments showed it was involved in the biochemistry of attachment. It's a sensible conclusion, given that babies require years of care and the body needs to motivate mothers for the demanding task of childrearing.

In recent years, scientists have wondered whether oxytocin also is generally involved with other aspects of bonding behavior — and specifically whether it stimulates trust.

In the experiments, the researchers tried to manipulate people's trust by adding more oxytocin to their brains. They used a synthetic version in a nasal spray that was absorbed by mucous membranes and crossed the blood-brain barrier. Researchers say the dose was harmless and altered oxytocin levels only temporarily.

A total of 178 male students from universities in Zurich took part in a pair of experiments. All the volunteers were in their 20s. They got the oxytocin or a placebo.

In the first experiment, they played a game in which an "investor" could choose to hand over to a "trustee" up to 12 units of money that are each equal to .40 Swiss franc, or about 32 cents. The trustee triples the investor's money, then gets to decide how much of the proceeds to share. The trustee can't be certain how much — if anything — he will get in return.

Of 29 subjects who got oxytocin, 45 percent invested the maximum amount of 12 monetary units and, in the researchers' words, showed "maximal trust." Only 21 percent had a lower trust level in which they invested less than 8 monetary units.

In contrast, the placebo group's trust behavior was reversed. Only 21 percent of the placebo subjects invested the maximum, while 45 percent invested at low levels.

Overall, the investors who received oxytocin invested 17 percent more than investors who received a placebo.

In a second experiment, investors faced the same decision. But this time, the trustee was replaced by a computer program in an effort to see whether the hormone promoted social interaction, or simply encouraged risk-taking.

With the computer, the oxytocin and placebo groups behaved similarly, with both groups investing an average of 7.5 monetary units.

"Oxytocin causes a substantial increase in trusting behavior," Fehr and his colleagues reported.

Researchers said they are performing a new round of experiments using brain imaging. "Now that we know that oxytocin has behavioral effects," Fehr said, "we want to know the brain circuits behind these effects."


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: health; hormone; medicine; mentalhealth; mindcontrol; oxytocin; trust
Stepford Wives, Part II

So9

1 posted on 06/01/2005 11:31:52 AM PDT by Servant of the 9
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To: Servant of the 9
Scientists Experiment With 'Trust' Hormone

I believe them.

2 posted on 06/01/2005 11:33:29 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: Servant of the 9
American scientists demonstrate in new experiments with a nasal spray containing the hormone oxytocin

Was Rush in on it ?

3 posted on 06/01/2005 11:35:11 AM PDT by al baby (Father of the Beeber)
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To: Servant of the 9
After a few squirts, human subjects were significantly more trusting and willing to invest money with no ironclad promise of a profit.

Hmm... Is that actually invoking "trust" in the subjects -- or gullibility?

4 posted on 06/01/2005 11:36:15 AM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: Servant of the 9
"Oxytocin causes a substantial increase in trusting behavior,"

We gotta find out who's putting this stuff in the Republican water pitchers in DC!

5 posted on 06/01/2005 11:36:17 AM PDT by grobdriver (Let the embeds check the bodies!)
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To: Servant of the 9

Servant...you didn't use the "Trust Me" tagline?


6 posted on 06/01/2005 11:37:23 AM PDT by RichInOC (Inhaler Little Girl?)
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To: al baby

I believe that is oxycoNtin, not oxyTocin.


7 posted on 06/01/2005 11:38:12 AM PDT by MeanWestTexan
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To: RichInOC
Servant...you didn't use the "Trust Me" tagline?

I used it, the posting function ate it.

I want a water pistol full of this stuff.

SO9

8 posted on 06/01/2005 11:39:00 AM PDT by Servant of the 9 (Trust Me)
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To: Servant of the 9

Coming to a casino's A/C system soon.


9 posted on 06/01/2005 11:39:02 AM PDT by MeanWestTexan
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To: Servant of the 9

Look, somebody wrote "gullible" on the ceiling!


10 posted on 06/01/2005 11:40:20 AM PDT by Hegemony Cricket (No rolling stone ever says, "I want to be a Bryologist when I grow up!")
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To: MeanWestTexan
Coming to a casino's A/C system soon.

Comming soon to the women's restroom of every pickup bar in the world.
Not to mention Police Interogation rooms.

So9

11 posted on 06/01/2005 11:41:08 AM PDT by Servant of the 9 (Trust Me)
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To: martin_fierro; Tijeras_Slim
After a few squirts, human subjects were significantly more trusting and willing to invest money with no ironclad promise of a profit.

May I interest you gentlemen in my fine products from Amway?

12 posted on 06/01/2005 11:41:43 AM PDT by Constitution Day (It's hard to get an answer when you haven't got a clue)
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To: Servant of the 9

I don't trust these scientists.


13 posted on 06/01/2005 11:42:40 AM PDT by P-Marlowe
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To: Servant of the 9

And used car lots...........trust me......


14 posted on 06/01/2005 11:44:55 AM PDT by Red Badger (Want to be surprised? Goooooooogle your own name.............)
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To: Constitution Day; Tijeras_Slim
May I interest you gentlemen in my fine products from Amway?

Please do!

15 posted on 06/01/2005 11:46:13 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: Servant of the 9

Huh... so you get someone 'stoned' and they are easier to trick.

Whats the science here?

I discovered similar effects in college after a few dozen shots of JD, my friend trusted me when I told him the officer would think it was funny if he took a whiz on the squad car parked outside the bar.


16 posted on 06/01/2005 11:48:12 AM PDT by FreedomNeocon (I'm in no Al-Samood for this Sheiite.)
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To: Servant of the 9; aculeus; general_re; Constitution Day
Interesting science, curious statement:

After a few squirts, human subjects were significantly more trusting and willing to invest money with no ironclad promise of a profit.

Call me oxytocin-deprived, if you like, for treating any “ironclad promise of a profit” with grave suspicion.

17 posted on 06/01/2005 11:48:56 AM PDT by dighton
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To: Servant of the 9

Great. I'm sure the creeps at NAMBLA are waiting for this with baited breath.


18 posted on 06/01/2005 11:50:00 AM PDT by Millee (So you're a feminist......isn't that cute??)
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To: FreedomNeocon
I discovered similar effects in college after a few dozen shots of JD, my friend trusted me when I told him the officer would think it was funny if he took a whiz on the squad car parked outside the bar.

It's funnier if they whiz ito the open window of a passing patrol car, but it's hard to get the bondsman to stop laughing long enough to do the paperwork.

SO9

19 posted on 06/01/2005 11:50:43 AM PDT by Servant of the 9 (Trust Me)
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To: Servant of the 9

Oxytocin causes contractions (orgasm, labor etc), Pitocin is the synthetic form of oxytocin. Interesting article.


20 posted on 06/01/2005 11:53:13 AM PDT by Theophilus (Save Little Democrats, Stop Abortion)
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To: Theophilus
Oxytocin causes contractions (orgasm, labor etc), Pitocin is the synthetic form of oxytocin. Interesting article.

Oxytocin enables orgasm as well as increased trust?

This is beginning to sound like every teenaged boy's dream drug.

SO9

21 posted on 06/01/2005 11:56:14 AM PDT by Servant of the 9 (Trust Me)
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To: Theophilus

My understanding is that oxytocin is released in the mother during breastfeeding, and is believed to contribute to the feeling of a bond between the nursing mother and the child.


22 posted on 06/01/2005 11:57:36 AM PDT by oblomov
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To: Servant of the 9

Will it make a girl believe a guy when he says "I love you" or "Sure, I'll call you tomorrow"? Could be quite a market for this, if so.


23 posted on 06/01/2005 12:00:43 PM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: dighton
Call me oxytocin-deprived, if you like

You're oxytocin-deprived, but I must be too.

24 posted on 06/01/2005 12:05:07 PM PDT by Constitution Day (It's hard to get an answer when you haven't got a clue)
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To: neverdem

PING for your health and science ping list?


25 posted on 06/01/2005 12:07:07 PM PDT by QQQQQ
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To: Servant of the 9

Conversely, maybe people who are easily trusting and easily conned have an overabuncance of oxytocin, and their gullible behavior could be counteracted by some medication, which would counteract the effect of the hormone.


26 posted on 06/01/2005 12:08:37 PM PDT by QQQQQ
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To: Orgiveme

Pitocin Ping.


27 posted on 06/01/2005 12:11:06 PM PDT by RhoTheta (US out of the UN, now!)
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To: Servant of the 9

I have heard that oxytocin has also been linked with the greater toleration by women of repetitive work.


28 posted on 06/01/2005 12:13:06 PM PDT by wideminded
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To: Servant of the 9

Oxytocin is a remarkable hormone, responsible for a whole host of emotional and physical responses. From love, to birthing labor.


29 posted on 06/01/2005 12:13:29 PM PDT by Paradox (Mixing metaphors like a bartender mixing concrete.)
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To: Millee

I hope you meant 'bated'. Otherwise, I don't want to know...


30 posted on 06/01/2005 12:21:27 PM PDT by proxy_user
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To: Servant of the 9

IIRC, oxytocin is the hormone that makes cows release their milk.


31 posted on 06/01/2005 12:32:55 PM PDT by Lil'freeper
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To: Servant of the 9
"Oxytocin causes a substantial increase in trusting behavior," Fehr and his colleagues reported.

The bad news is...you begin lactating profusely..

32 posted on 06/01/2005 12:34:26 PM PDT by joesnuffy (Taglines often reveal a lot about the inner person...)
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To: proxy_user

Oh gosh, was that Freudian??? Thanks for the correction!


33 posted on 06/01/2005 12:35:15 PM PDT by Millee (So you're a feminist......isn't that cute??)
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To: QQQQQ; Incorrigible; El Gato; JudyB1938; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Robert A. Cook, PE; lepton; ...
Other scientists say the new research raises important questions about oxytocin's potential as a therapy for conditions like autism or social phobias, in which trust is diminished.

The Genetics of Autism. This is an article I found looking for a review article on oxytocin.

William’s Syndrome

FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.

34 posted on 06/01/2005 12:56:16 PM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: Servant of the 9; mhking

oh, crap!


35 posted on 06/01/2005 2:30:20 PM PDT by King Prout (RG'OIHGV 08 YAEGRKoirliha35u9p089 y5gep'iojq5g353hat5eohiahetb98 ye5po)
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To: King Prout
oh, crap!

No, it doesn't seem to have any effect on that.

So9

36 posted on 06/01/2005 2:32:52 PM PDT by Servant of the 9 (Trust Me)
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To: Servant of the 9

I trust your assessment of this.


37 posted on 06/01/2005 2:37:47 PM PDT by King Prout (RG'OIHGV 08 YAEGRKoirliha35u9p089 y5gep'iojq5g353hat5eohiahetb98 ye5po)
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To: oblomov

>>>My understanding is that oxytocin is released in the mother during breastfeeding, and is believed to contribute to the feeling of a bond between the nursing mother and the child.


The "bonding hormone" is prolactin. Oxytocin is what causes the milk to be released from the milk ducts.


38 posted on 06/01/2005 2:52:44 PM PDT by blurb
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