Trust, Bonding and Oxytocin

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Michael Kosfeld, Markus Heinrichs, Paul J Zak, Urs Fischbacher, Ernst Fehr

Nature 435 (7042), 673, 2005

Trust pervades human societies 1, 2. Trust is indispensable in friendship, love, families and organizations, and plays a key role in economic exchange and politics 3. In the absence of trust among trading partners, market transactions break down. In the absence of trust in a country’s institutions and leaders, political legitimacy breaks down. Much recent evidence indicates that trust contributes to economic, political and social success 4, 5. Little is known, however, about the biological basis of trust among humans. Here we show that intranasal administration of oxytocin, a neuropeptide that plays a key role in social attachment and affiliation in non-human mammals 6, 7, 8, causes a substantial increase in trust among humans, thereby greatly increasing the benefits from social interactions. We also show that the effect of oxytocin on trust is not due to a general increase in the readiness to bear risks. On the contrary, oxytocin specifically affects an individual’s willingness to accept social risks arising through interpersonal interactions. These results concur with animal research suggesting an essential role for oxytocin as a biological basis of prosocial approach behaviour.

My response:

My research specifically uses touch, cuddling and affection to foster feelings of trust bonding and belonging. This research is important because it strengthens my argument that people need physical contact, whether that’s non-sexual or sexual in order to build strong relationships that they can feel safe within. my action research has provided me with feedback and data to confirm that people feel and overwhelming sense of togetherness, whilst being cared for by the rest of the group. The workshops take the form of night and day where participants are able to experienceSleeping with one another in groups over night and waking up together. It is important that I communicate the need for the trip to be in for contact with one another so no one is left alone. This reinforcement of togetherness opens feelings of group compassion.

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