The biology of trust: Integrating evidence from genetics, endocrinology and functional brain imaging

René Riedl, Andrija Javor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Trust is among the most important factors in human life, as it pervades almost all domains of society. Although behavioral research has revealed a number of insights into the nature of trust, as well as its antecedents and consequences, an increasing number of scholars have begun to investigate the topic from a biological perspective to gain a deeper understanding. These biological investigations into trust have been carried out on three levels of analysis: genes, endocrinology, and the brain. Based on these three levels, we present a review of the literature on the biology of trust. Moreover, we integrate our findings into a conceptual framework which unifies the three levels of analysis, and we also link the biological levels to trust behavior. The results show that trust behavior is at least moderately genetically predetermined. Moreover, trust behavior is associated with specific hormones, in particular oxytocin, as well as specific brain structures, which are located in the basal ganglia, limbic system, and the frontal cortex. Based on these results, we discuss both methodological and thematic implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-91
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Neuroscience, Psychology and Economics
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2012

Keywords

  • Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • FMRI
  • Functional brain imaging
  • Genetics
  • Hormones
  • Oxytocin
  • Trust

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