You're crossing the street at a traffic light, and there’s a car approaching. They have a red light. Do you freeze in fear? Do you run to the other side? No, you take your time and cross. You trust that the driver will obey the rules of the road, even though you don’t know them.
Trust isn’t just a social or emotional response, there’s a physiological connection as well. Researchers have discovered that the hormone and neurochemical oxytocin plays a role in allowing strangers to trust each other.
The research is described in the June issue of Scientific American, and the magazine's editor-in-chief, John Rennie, joined Word of Mouth to share the brain science behind trust.
Read more about researcher Paul Zak and the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies.
(Photo by Colin Ashe)