When Paul Zak, founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, compared levels of trust and self-reported happiness in 25 countries (see graph below), he discovered that the two were closely related: The more trusting people are, the happier they are, and vice versa. Noting the relationship between the hormone oxytocin, trust, and warm, happy feelings, Zak writes in a 2007 paper, “Nature has designed us to be conditional cooperators because it literally feels good.”
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About The Author
Jeremy Adam Smith edits the GGSC’s online magazine, Greater Good. He is also the author or coeditor of four books, including The Daddy Shift, Are We Born Racist?, and The Compassionate Instinct. Before joining the GGSC, Jeremy was a 2010-11 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. You can follow him on Twitter!