Bonding hormone behind willingness to donate: Study

Bonding hormone behind willingness to donate: Study
Berlin: The degree to which people are willing to donate their money for social sustainability projects increases with their level of oxytocin, a new study has found. Scientists at the University of Bonn Hospital in Germany discovered that the willingness to donate increases with the quantity of this bonding hormone. The 'cuddle hormone' oxytocin strengthens social ties in persons newly in love, during sex and during breastfeeding, the level of this hormone is particularly high. "Earlier studies have found evidence that the messenger also promotes generosity," Rene Hurlemann, a professor at the hospital said. The scientists conducted experiments on 172 participants. Each subject received 10 euros and was able to decide whether he would keep the amount for himself or whether he wished to donate all or only part of it. There were two actual aid projects to choose from — one ecological project for rain forest reforestation in Congo and a social project to improve the livelihoods of the native inhabitants in the Congo region. Using saliva samples, the researchers tested the participants' oxytocin level during the study. Oxytocin appears to have no effect in the case of environmental projects. Whether there were high or low amounts of the body's own oxytocin did not change anything at all with regard to donation behaviour. In a second experiment, the researchers administered the bonding hormone to some of the test subjects via a nasal spray; the other test subjects received a placebo as control. "The pattern repeated itself — on average, the oxytocin group donated twice as much for social projects — 4.50 euros more on average - than did the untreated participants," said Nina Marsh, lead author of the study. The participants were given a catalogue of various foods and items of clothing. They could either select a conventionally produced version or choose the sustainable variant and indicate a price for these items that they would be willing to pay. One catalogue listed socially-conscious products which featured on good working conditions. The other catalogue targeted goods produced in an environmentally friendly way, for which emphasis was placed on maintaining biodiversity. The subjects each saw only one of the two catalogues. The group receiving oxytocin selected more products produced in a socially sustainable way than did the placebo participants. They were even willing to pay twice as much money than for conventional products. "The results show that subjects with low oxytocin levels tend to support environmental sustainability projects, since they donated an average of nearly half of their money for this purpose," Marsh said. The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience. — PTI. Source: Article

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