Can Trust Be Bottled?
Despots with RAD

Oxytocin Researcher = Sexy Geek

For those who still need proof that oxytocin will be the hot peptide of 2006, Wired News named Paul Zak one of the year's sexiest geeks.

Kristen Philipkoski named Zak, co-chair of the economics department at Claremont University, for his research on economic "trust games," in which two people take turns transferring money to each other. Zak found that increased levels of oxytocin as people cooperated tended to make them act for mutual benefit rather than to play the game to win the most money. She wrote that he

[whittled] away at some long-held myths about the sexes. In a recent study he found that men, not women, react hormonally when they're not trusted, and that men tend to take negotiations over money personally.

Philipkoski misinterprets Zak's research, however. He worked with male subjects, but he didn't compare males and females to find that only males were affected by oxytocin. In fact, women are more affected, because estrogen reinforces the effects of oxytocin, while testosterone tends to mute them.