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Is how much we save linked to hormones?

March 14, 2014

Researchers have linked the brain chemical "oxytocin" with increased charitable giving and delayed gratification. Oxytocin is known as the “love hormone” or the “cuddle chemical”. In studies, it has been shown to increase both generosity and patience. Subjects were more willing to donate money to a stranger, and more willing to delay receiving money in order to obtain an larger reward.

 

In a study by Paul Zak, one of the pioneers of neuro-economics, researchers gave test subjects $10 and they were given the option to transfer the money to a stranger. When the stranger received it, the money was tripled and she was told that she could return some of the money to the donor. Researchers found that the more money the second person received, the more her brain produced oxytocin. The more oxytocin she produced, the more money she returned to the first person. In another study, scientists found that people infused with oxytocin donated to 57% more causes and gave 56% more money than those who were given placebos.

 

So, if higher oxytocin levels result in better spending decisions, how do we generate these levels in everyday life? In these studies, subjects were infused with oxytocin artifically in a research setting. Since this is not available to us, we can generate this chemical by hugging anyone and everyone, watching an emotional movie, and connecting with people through a thrilling event, such as a karaoke competition or dance.

 

 

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