In oxytocin we trust


Back in 2005, Nature Magazine reported that the trust hormone, oxytocin, was now available in bottle form. A Swiss-led research team tested their synthesised chemical on volunteers who were playing an investment game for real money. When they inhaled the nasal spray, the participants in the game were more likely to hand over money to a trustee.

Oxytocin is a chemical that occurs naturally in the brain, and its production is triggered by a range of stimuli, including orgasm, and breastfeeding. It is said to be important in the the formation of social ties, where trust is critical, such as mating pairs, and parent-offspring bonds. It is suggested that naturally occurring oxytocin in humans boosts some social effects by encouraging animals and people to overcome their natural wariness when faced in risky or unfamiliar situations.

Now, before all you salespeople and singles rush out and buy bottles of the bottled “trust” spray, you should know that you are probably already helping people to release oxytocin in many of your interactions.

Liquid Trust

For example, the colour blue is said to increase natural levels of oxytocin, meaning that by wearing a blue shirt, or doing a presentation with the colour blue as your background, you may boost levels of oxytocin amongst your viewers, and therefore their trust of your presentation.

Similarly, if you touch somebody very gently on the forearm, or take them into your confidence, by saying, “no, don’t buy that one… lots of customers have brought them back for refunds”, you are likely to be triggering your respondent’s levels of oxytocin. Similarly, if you are in the relationship stakes, simply by touching someone, gently, on the arm, you will release their natural oxytocin. Or if you start a conversation by being self-deprecating, you will again be encouraging a natural release of the trust hormone.

The spray itself is likely to have very little effect, because the hormone has to be administered by either injection or nasal spray, directly to the desired recipient. Once it interacts with your skin, it becomes more diluted, and does not have as much effect as the naturally occurring means of  release.

Oxytocin has a half-life of typically about three minutes in the blood, so you need to work fast. Once the trust hormone has died down, you need to reinforce the response with rewards, such as those that confirm the respondents’ views, values and attitudes about the world, or in the case of marketing, their choices.

This entry was posted in Consumer Behavior, Human Behavior, Philosophy, Research, Social Psychology, Tribal and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to In oxytocin we trust

  1. Jeremy says:

    I wonder if this stuff actually works. I mean, like, actually DO something? There aren’t so many review sites out there but I found one. It also has the products you’ve showed above reviewed, with Liquid Trust as #1. What do you think? I’m getting tired of browsing for them..;

  2. Paul Harrison says:

    To be honest, I think it is highly unlikely that it would work in the same way that natural oxytocins work. But, as I have said in other columns, for people who are feeling vulnerable, we tend to believe claims that are made that suggest our lives will be better if we use a particular product. That’s what marketing does – make us feel that the product being offered to us will solve our problems. And, the moment “science” is involved, for some bizarre reason, we assume it will work, and throw out any rational assessment or scepticism.

    In terms of the science, see the last paragraph of the column, where I say “The spray itself is likely to have very little effect, because the hormone has to be administered by either injection or nasal spray, directly to the desired recipient. Once it interacts with your skin, it becomes more diluted, and does not have as much effect as the naturally occurring means of release.”

  3. Jim Brahim says:

    Thank god for an honest site commenting the possible effects of oxytocin products for human trust. After my curiosity was aroused by a newspaper article, I decided to do a little research. There seems to be very little real info for the consumer on this, only hype. However there seems to be a lot of dis-information, in particular a website thinly disguised to appear as an impartial ‘review’ or ‘research’ site but in fact targetted to promote a certain brand. No doubt many will be conned into buying products from the sponsor after reading the ‘reviews’, but look again, the competitors’ products listed DO NOT EXIST! Dear consumer, please try and click on the links to all the various products. After you find that the ONLY link that actually works is to the sponsor’s site, try to google the rival products and you will know what i mean. The sponsor cleverly chose names from a list of real pharmaceutical companies that sell genuine oxytocin products for veterinary and medical uses including cattle and fish breeding(!) and human obstetrics. I hope these companies take legal action on the guilty party.
    All this from a ‘Government Approved’ review site (whatever THAT is supposed to mean)!

  4. Pingback: Supermarket psychology « tribalinsight

  5. Toomy says:

    I just want to chime in to say to anyone else who’s planning to buy that oxytocin liquid trust that I bought it from here and it worked very badly.

    I dont know if it has a placebo effect or not but the only time I thought it actually done anything was when I used half a bottle of the stuff.

  6. Pingback: Oxytocin: That word doesn’t mean what you think it means

  7. Daux says:

    I’ve used the Oxytocin Injection, 1ml, for almost a year – not for trust or for cuddles but as a medication for fibromyalgia. It worked *great* not only for the fibro but also for rapid-cycle bipolar disorder, including anxiety. Since I am no longer able to acquire the injectable my life has gone back to being a living h3ll of pain and fear. It was great to be “normal” for a year.

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