Okay, This is Scary

From the New Scientist

Giving people a whiff of a key chemical can make them more inclined to trust strangers with their cash, a new study reveals. Just three puffs of a nasal spray containing a hormone called oxytocin increased the chance that people would part with their money.

The research centred around a game in which an “investor” player gives part or all of his money on blind trust to an anonymous “trustee” player who earns interest on the combination of his own money and the invested sum. But the investor is told there is no obligation for the “trustee” to give any money back at all – they risk losing any money they choose to invest.

Michael Kosfeld at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, who led the study found that investors gave away their money far more willingly if they had sniffed oxytocin than if they had sniffed a placebo. But this extra willingness disappeared when the trustee’s role was computerised, rather than carried out by another human, confirming that the effect was interpersonal, and not simply a general willingness to gamble.

The good news:

But could it be used to con people? Kosfeld doubts it, because it takes nearly an hour for the hormone to reach the brain.

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