Tuesday, March 26, 2013

review: the moral molecule, source of love and prosperity


ishe-journal | The Moral Molecule: the Source of Love and Prosperity presents, in informal language, the results of neuroeconomist Paul J. Zak’s work on the effects of the hormone oxytocin on a wide range of human behavior. It considers the hormone’s reinforcing effects on individuals, on close personal relationships, and on society as a whole. Chapters cover the evolution of trust, the pathways by which oxytocin works as a behavioral reinforcer, how other factors can interfere with oxytocin’s “good effects,” how the biology of oxytocin intersects religion, why greed isn’t good for individuals or societies, and how to create a bottom-up democracy. Zak makes a case for a link from oxytocin to empathy, to morality, to trust, to love, to economic prosperity…and to something he calls a virtuous cycle.  Testosterone effects are also described, in particular how they counteract or balance the effects oxytocin. This book review summarizes these elements and also stresses the relationship of the hormones oxytocin and testosterone to war.

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