Oxytocin increases trust, but not gullibility

A Belgian study into the effects of oxytocin appear to indicate that concerns over the potential for politicians and buisnesses to exploit the trusting properties of the hormone may be overstated.  The team, working from the Catholic University of Louvain, appear to have demonstrated that oxytocin increases trust without increasing outright gullibility.  In other words, oxytocin only works in certain situations and contexts, namely when the person has already reason to belive that another person is reliable and trustworthy.

The participants were paired up with a computer and virtual partners, some of whom appeared to be reliable (the type to share the money) and some who appeared unreliable (those likely to keep it all for themselves).

Compared to participants who were given the placebo, those who received the oxytocin offered more money to the computer and the reliable partners. However, those in the oxytocin group were no more likely than those who received the placebo to share money with a seemingly unreliable partner.

Oxytocin increases trust, not gullibility