A Revolution in the Science of Good and Evil
Why do some people give freely while others are cold hearted?
Why do some people cheat and steal while others you can trust with your life?
Why are some husbands more faithful than others--and why do women tend toÿbe more generous than men?
Could they key toÿmoral behavior lie with a single molecule?
From the bucolic English countryside to the highland of Papua New Guinea, from labs in Switzerland to his campus in Souther California, Dr. Paul Zak recounts his extraordinary stories and sets out, for the first time, hisÿrevolutionary theory of moral behavior. Accessibleÿand electrifying,The Moral Molecule is nothing less than the origins of our most human qualities-empathy, happiness, the kindness of strangers-revealed.
About the Author
PAUL J. ZAK, Ph.D., is professor of economic psychology and management at Claremont Graduate University. As the founding director of Claremont's Center for Neuroeconomics Studies, he is at the vanguard of neuroeconomics, a new discipline that integrates neuroscience and economics. He has a popular Pyschology Today blog called The Moral Molecule. He makes numerous media appearances, and his research has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Scientific American, Fast Company, and many others.
Is it possible to locate a single biological element that might explain why some people are good and others are evil? Economic psychologist and neuroscientist Zak (Claremont Graduate University) says “yes” in a book that is by turns stimulating and reductionist. Starting in 2001, he and his colleagues conducted experiments on men and women in various countries and economic circumstances, isolating a single chemical—oxytocin—as the key to moral behavior. Oxytocin is known primarily as a female hormone responsible for the peaceful attention that mothers give to newborns during breastfeeding. Testosterone blocks oxytocin, which Zak presents as explaining gender differences in cooperative behavior; he also explains why trauma victims have trouble connecting emotionally: oxytocin production is shut down, as it is from early childhood abuse or neglect. Through his experiments, Zak discovers that a simple sign of trust from one person can trigger a surge of oxytocin in someone else, eliciting trusting behavior in return. Zak admits that other factors play a role in fashioning morality. Even so, he demonstrates the intriguing possibility that oxytocin orchestrates the generous and caring behavior we all endorse as moral. Agent: Linda Loewenthal, David Black Literary Agency. (May)
"Paul Zak's investigations into the best things in life are inspired, rigorous, and tremendous fun. We need more daring economists like him."
-Tyler Cowen, author of "The Great Stagnation" and "An Economist Gets Lunch"
For Ages: 18+ years old
For Grades: 12+
Number Of Pages: 235
Published: 10th May 2012
Dimensions (cm): 23.114 x 16.002 x 3.048
Weight (kg): 0.422