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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