Thursday, November 26, 2009

Being Thankful for Natalie Angiers and Oxytocin

I am being thankful this year for Natalie Angiers and the peptide hormone oxytocin.

In her post today in the New York Times she wrote:
In a series of papers that appeared in Nature, Neuron and elsewhere, Ernst Fehr, director of the Institute for Empirical Research in Economics at the University of Zurich, and his colleagues showed that the hormone had a remarkable effect on the willingness of people to trust strangers with their money. In the Nature study, 58 healthy male students were given a single nasal squirt of either oxytocin or a placebo solution and, 50 minutes later, were instructed to start playing rounds of the Trust Game with each other, using monetary units they could either invest or withhold.

The researchers found that the oxytocin-enhanced subjects were significantly more likely than the placebo players to trust their financial partners: whereas 45 percent of the oxytocin group agreed to invest the maximum amount of money possible, just 21 percent of the control group proved so amenable.
She truly has the give for making this stuff accessible. It's rare to read something of hers that fails to make you laugh out loud, marvel at her ability to choose and arrange words, and also to ponder and savor the mysteries of life.

Read whatever she writes, this being a perfect example. It will not disappoint.

Thank you, Natalie.

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