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Oxytocin Increases Generosity in Humans

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  • Zak, Paul J.
  • Stanton, Angela A.
  • Ahmadi, Sheila

Abstract

Human beings routinely help strangers at costs to themselves. Sometimes the help offered is generous offering more than the other expects. The proximate mechanisms supporting generosity are not well-understood, but several lines of research suggest a role for empathy. In this study, participants were infused with 40 IU oxytocin (OT) or placebo and engaged in a blinded, one-shot decision on how to split a sum of money with a stranger that could be rejected. Those on OT were 80% more generous than those given a placebo. OT had no effect on a unilateral monetary transfer task dissociating generosity from altruism. OT and altruism together predicted almost half the interpersonal variation in generosity. Notably, OT had twofold larger impact on generosity compared to altruism. This indicates that generosity is associated with both altruism as well as an emotional identification with another person.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 5650.

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Date of creation: 07 Nov 2007
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Publication status: Published in PloS ONE 11.e1128(2007): pp. 1-5
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:5650

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Keywords: Oxytocin; generous; altruism; ultimatum game; dictator game; punishing; rejection;

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  1. Glazer, Amihai & Konrad, Kai A, 1996. "A Signaling Explanation for Charity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 1019-28, September.
  2. Erte Xiao & Daniel Houser, 2005. "Emotion expression in human punishment behavior," Experimental 0504003, EconWPA, revised 18 May 2005.
  3. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  4. Hessel Oosterbeek & Randolph Sloof & Gijs van de Kuilen, 2004. "Cultural differences in ultimatum game experiments: Evidence from a meta-analysis," Experimental 0401003, EconWPA.
  5. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  6. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2000. "The Evolution of Strong Reciprocity," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics 2000-05, .
  7. Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics 2000-02, .
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Cited by:
  1. Thomas Buser, 2010. "Handedness predicts Social Preferences: Evidence connecting the Lab to the Field," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-119/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. LAMBERT, Bruno & DECLERCK, Carolyn H. & BOONE, Christophe, 2013. "Oxytocin does not make a face appear more trustworthy but improves the accuracy of trustworthiness judgments," Working Papers 2013011, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics.
  3. Matthew Pearson & Burkhard C. Schipper, 2009. "The Visible Hand: Finger Ratio (2D:4D) and Competitive Behavior," Working Papers 912, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  4. repec:dgr:uvatin:2008063 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Matthew Pearson & Burkhard Schipper, 2012. "Menstrual Cycle and Competitive Bidding," Working Papers 1110, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  6. Stanton, Angela A., 2008. "Neuroeconomics: A Critique of ‘Neuroeconomics: A Critical Reconsideration’," MPRA Paper 13957, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 10 Mar 2009.
  7. Burkhard Schipper, 2014. "Sex hormones and choice under risk," Working Papers 147, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  8. Mohamed I. Gomaa & Stuart Mestelman & Mohamed Shehata, 2014. "Social Distance, Reputation, Risk Attitude, Value Orientation and Equity in Economic Exchanges," Department of Economics Working Papers 2014-07, McMaster University.
  9. Harrison, Glenn W., 2008. "Neuroeconomics: A Critical Reconsideration," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(03), pages 303-344, November.
  10. Zak, Paul J., 2011. "Moral markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 212-233, February.
  11. Buser, Thomas, 2012. "The impact of the menstrual cycle and hormonal contraceptives on competitiveness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 1-10.
  12. Buser, Thomas, 2012. "Digit ratios, the menstrual cycle and social preferences," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 457-470.
  13. Burkhard Schipper, 2014. "Sex hormones and competitive bidding," Working Papers 144, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  14. Zak, Paul J., 2011. "The physiology of moral sentiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 53-65, January.

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