Neuroeconomist Paul Zak on Markets and the "Molecule of Love"


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"Markets are pro-social. Markets are about serving the needs of another-that is innately virtuous," says Paul J. Zak, professor of Economics at Claremont Graduate University.

Zak is the founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont and is credited with the first published use of the term neuroeconomics, a new discipline that integrates neuroscience and economics. He describes neuroeconomics as the "brain basis for decision-making" or simply put, "It's really about why people make bad decisions regarding money."

In 2004, Zak's lab discovered that the chemnical oxytocin (best known for inducing labor in women and giving us that warm fuzzy feeling when we hug someone) allows us to determine whom to trust in situations that require exchange. That's the same trust that makes trade possible and underpins modern civilizations and economies.

Zak discusses his oxytocin argument, presented in Moral Markets: The Critical Role of Values in the Economy and why even the most untrustworthy among us leads to a healthy and moral marketplace.

Approximately 10 minutes long. Produced by Hawk Jensen with Alex Manning as director of photography.

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