Sunday, December 03, 2006


...or so says one of Jenny Holzer's truisms.

As an addendum to yesterday's post on Oxytocin and Mind Reading, I present to you the comments of Professor Paul Zak as a public service announcement, sponsored by The Neurocritic:

The synthetic oxytocin used in the experiments [by Kosfeld et al., 2005] has been around so long that it is available as a generic drug. It is no longer sold in the United States, though European women still use it to boost breastfeeding, said Paul Zak, one of the authors of the trust paper in Nature.

The dose needed to produce effects on trust was large -- subjects took about three teaspoonsful up their noses. But it appears to be quite safe, said Zak, who is director of the center for Neuroeconomic Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California.

The biggest side effect is that perhaps 20 percent of the men who take it get erections, he said, and, of course, pregnant women would want to avoid it because it could trigger contractions.

And in case you were wondering whether trust in a bottle would be worth your $49.95 for a 2 month supply, Zak had this to say:
On that score, a body spray on the market called ''Liquid Trust," is advertised as containing oxytocin that will induce unconscious trust in all who encounter you. But Zak said it's ''totally bogus," because sniffing oxytocin from someone's shirt collar will not get enough of the hormone to the brain. It's also available without a prescription -- unlike the real stuff -- he said, and overpriced: ''Liquid Trust" costs $49.95 for a two-month supply, while Zak and his colleagues made their inhalers for about $5 each.
The quotes above are from a great article in the Boston Globe online, Feeling shy, afraid of strangers? Hormone under study may help.

Remember: Don't Place Too Much Trust In Experts.

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At December 04, 2006 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even if that body spray did work, it wouldn't be very practical. After all, you'd be exposed to it more than anyone you meet with. So instead of them trusting you with no reason, you'd be more likely to trust them blindly.

At December 04, 2006 7:39 PM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Indeed! The company doesn't seem to acknowledge that the spray would (hypothetically) affect the consumer as well.

Oh, here's a gem:

You could even spray some on memos or reports that you have to hand to your manager! Although they cannot smell it, Liquid Trust is there and working to increase trust in you.


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