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Zak gave 4 millilitres of oxytocin or a placebo saline solution to 40 male volunteers in the form of a nasal spray. The volunteers were then shown 16 commercials seeking to curtail smoking, drinking, speeding, and global warming. (…)

Significantly more people who had been given oxytocin donated money than those given saline. They also donated on average 57 per cent more money. The results were presented this week at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego.

Oxytocin is well-known for its role in empathy and trust, though is currently only available on prescription. As a result, at the moment it can’t be used by advertisers to persuade us to feel more favourable towards their product, though many make sure their adverts contain images that evoke bursts of natural oxytocin, such as children and pets, says Zak.

{ NewScientist | Continue reading }

illustration { Jessica Hische }