The Moral Molecule by Paul J. Zak
With a PhD in Economics, post grad training in Neuroscience and lecturing as a Clinical Professor of Neurology, Paul J. Zak’s is a specialist in human behaviour. His latest investigation into what many believe separates us from the animals, morality, delves into the how, when and why behind positive human actions.
The majority of his research is based on the reproductive hormone called Oxytocin. Commonly known as a hormone that controls pregnant women’s contractions, mother’s production of milk and creates the ‘warm glow’ one feels when being hugged, massaged or having sex. Various experiments from blood taking at weddings to money based trust trials demonstrate peaks in Oxytocin levels. But surely everyone putting themselves first means survival of the fittest and therefore stronger human beings? Well, apparently not. Zak states that a more trustworthy society will lead to improved economic development and is therefore prosperous for all of us. This theory is backed up again by the fact that generosity is attractive in a partner, therefore likely to enhance chances of finding a mate and reproducing. He also goes on to explain that naturally higher levels of Oxytocin leads to a happier more relaxed existence and there a longer life. But if Oxytocin can truly make us ‘good’ is it Testosterone that makes us ‘evil’?
The Moral Molecule is not only completely fascinating but a joy to read. It finds the perfect balance between being accessible enough to be understood by all but never too simple to lose the readers full attention. This book will definitely leave you amazed (and maybe unnerved) at just how much one hormone can affect what we think of as our personality.
Buy The Moral Molecule by Paul J. Zak