Centre for Confidence and Well-being

Skip to content
Carol's Blog
Postcards from Scotland

Oxytocin reveals why we are generous

Researchers have shown that oxytocin, otherwise known as the love hormone, is associated with increased giving. Neuroeconomist Paul J. Zak of Claremont Graduate University has previously shown that oxytocin increases trust. His most recent study shows that oxytocin has an even bigger effect on generosity, than on trust.

Zak has found that individuals given a small dose of Oxytocin were more likely to give to others. Specifically, Zak found that when he offered participants a one time decision on how to split a sum of money with a stranger, who could accept or reject the split, those given oxytocin offered 80% more money than those given a placebo.

According to Zak, we have an innate motivation to give to others, and that our generosity has increased over the last 50 years.  Annual giving levels are up 187% since 1954.  In 2005, over 65 million Americans volunteered to help charities.  96% of the volunteers said that one of their motivations was the compassion they felt towards others. Though these are not British figures, we should be likely to see a similar pattern

Previously, ?Zak has shown a relationship between oxytocin and trust, making a clear case that the ancient hormone causes a shift in brain chemistry that is evolutionarily important - the more we trust one another and cooperate, the more we all benefit together.? To read this article click here 

If you want more information about the benefits of oxytocin you can listen to Jennifer Crocker on our website.  She talks about the benefits of acting out of an eco motivational system which relies on oxytocin, and has positive effects on motivation and well-being click here

Centre Events Previous Centre Events External Events Carol's Talks