OK the social Darwinists have had their day I think. The bloody struggle to the top of the social pile was based on some assumptions about human nature. These assumptions are proving to be only a small part of the story of human progress.
In an essay entitled ‘The Nueroeconomics of Trust’ Paul Zak demonstrates (check out the video attached) with the use of extensive experimental research that we human are predisposed to cooperate with and trust each other. By carrying out a series of ‘trust games’ Zak revealed a number of quite surprising results. One of the most fascinating conclusions was that when participants of the experiment extended trust to other subjects – the recipients of the trust experienced significant increase in oxytocin levels in their blood stream. Oxytocin is a human hormone that triggers feelings of connection and bonding.
This research has many implications. One is that when we extend trust toward another person we are changing their body chemistry. In the case of oxytocin we are actually increasing the desire in the other person to reciprocate trust and help.
The other is that trust begins with us – by extending it to others we can begin a process within which everyone starts to be capable of greater levels of trust. The reason this experimental research is so interesting to me is that trust is the foundation of collaboration. Without it there will always be significant limitations on the depth of the Collaborative Intelligence within a group.