Trust, Morality, and Oxytocin

I listened to a TED Talk while having dinner last night. The topic was human morality, and it was presented by a Dr. Paul Zak, who explained his findings on the connection between oxytocin, kindness, and empathy.

Dr. Zak calls oxytocin “the moral molecule,” and believes it’s responsible for trust, empathy, and other feelings that help build a stable society.

An interesting observation from his experiments: high levels of testosterone were found to result in more displays of selfish behavior. The high testosterone individuals would also use their resources to punish others for displaying selfish behavior. Dr. Zak describes oxytocin and testosterone as the yin and yang of morality – “we have testosterone that makes us want to punish people who behave immorally.”

“We don’t need God or government telling us what to do. It’s all inside of us.”