In oxytocin we trust
This is the third in a series of posts from hand-picked guest bloggers about trust. The idea was kicked off by me rewatching Game of Thrones and thinking about its twin themes of power and trust.
My third guest blogger is known as @aricochet, who I connected with on Twitter (of course). We have had many interesting conversations on all manner of topics including leadership, marketing and brain chemistry. And these conversations have been interesting enough to ask him to be a guest blogger on the subject of trust.
Trust is the nervous system of our society. It’s the currency that drives
our decisions to share a secret with a potential lover or to hand over a
deposit for that used Mercedes. In fact, nearly every decision we make is
based on trust; and it seems this leap of faith can be reduced to a
molecular transaction of the neurochemical oxytocin.
Oxytocin is the chemical that floods a mother’s nervous system during
labour, and plays a central role in establishing the unbreakable bond between
mother and child. It’s also that warm feeling you get after 22 seconds of
hugging, 15 minutes of massage and when you sustain eye contact with a stranger. In fact, you even get it after 10 mins of tweeting! And herein lies the basis for creating and sustaining trust: research points to trust being chemical, and our response to all forms of social stimuli is based on the flow of oxytocin.
In terms of social networking, research shows virtual relationships can be
as real as actual relationships. The rush of oxytocin is identical and in
many ways, the online medium allows for a more honest approach to building
relationships. This makes sense; so often we hear how ‘my online buddies
know me better than my real life friends’. In other words, the brain’s
release of oxytocin corresponds with the depth of connection between two
Ultimately, oxytocin is the glue that builds and binds families, communities,
and societies while acting as the currency for all transactions requiring
an element of trust.
@aricochet has promised a follow-up post on this fascinating subject, because the word count I imposed just doesn’t do it justice. 😉