Oxytocin levels, trust and race

Hbdchick has posted some tables comparing trust levels between people in various nations.  Of course there are many variables that influence how much people trust each other.  It is worthy noting that, as hbdchick has pointed out:

the most trusting peoples in the world (surveyed)? = the usual suspects. germanics, anglos, finnish, french. swedes most naive.
the least trusting peoples in the world (surveyed)? = chinese, romanians, peruvians (what’s up with the peruvians?).
italians = not so trusting.

Coincidentally, I was just reading “What is Your Dangerous Idea?“, where Alun Anderson writes (pg. 79), regarding Oxytocin,:

And the hormone boosts the feeling that you can trust others, which is a key part of intimate relations.  In a recent laboratory “investment game,” many investors would trust all their money to a stranger after a puff of an oxytocin spray.

Whether oxytocin levels vary according to race or ethnicity is a touchy subject.  Iranian writer Fesenjoon wondered the same thing (back in 2010) and wrote:

But what can be said from a scientific point of view? Can we pinpoint some factors or elements, that might bear some direct influence on the status of the country’s social and economic health? Is there a relationship between the degree of poverty in a country, and the amount of how people perceive each other? According to Paul Zak, a neuroeconomist, there is.
According to Zak, one can observe a linear correlation between the amount of Oxytocin in one’s body, and the amount of trust that person feels toward others. And what’s more interesting is that “high-trust countries are by and large rich countries, or certainly fast-growing countries, and poor countries are countries with low trust”. So according to him,“countries in which trust is high have effective governments, they have very tight social structures, people interact very nicely with each other, they don’t have a lot of divisions, and there’s a positive feedback loop. They have higher incomes which further accentuates greater growth. So trust is this kind of great summary measure of a society in which things are working well. And lack of trust therefore is a measure of how things do not work well in society…
What Paul Zak dared not delve into (and yet hints at in some of his lectures) is the question of whether race and ethnicity have anything to do with Oxytocin. Oooo, touchy subject, aint it. What if I were to claim that Iranians (and Middle Easterners in general) have a low propensity overall towards being moral (which is why weve had the most fucked up govt on the planet for 30 yrs, and yet some of us are still defending it, while others simply live with it)? Are we genetically programmed to be so muleaheadedly stubborn and bezehkaar? Or is it a cultural thing? Or is it the sway and influence of a 7th century incompetent faith on the affairs of the state?

Not many black African countries are listed on hbdchick’s tables.  Mali is listed, and it scores fairly high in trust.  This may be because it is a largely homogeneous state that is strongly Islamic.  Its citizens are bound together ethnically and religiously.  It is one of the safest places in black Africa.
I did find one study hinting at low Oxytocin levels among blacks.  In a study called “Ethnicity is associated with alterations in oxytocin relationships to pain sensitivity in women”, we find:


It is well established that African Americans (AA) experience greater pain associated with a variety of clinical conditions, and greater pain sensitivity to experimental pain tasks relative to non-Hispanic Whites (W). Notably, African Americans do not show the same relationships involving endogenous pain regulatory mechanisms and pain sensitivity documented in Caucasians, including positive associations between blood pressure, norepinephrine, cortisol and greater pain tolerance.
Objectives. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between plasma oxytocin (OT) and pain sensitivity and to explore the relation of OT to other factors known to influence pain perception.
Design. OT concentration and sensitivity to ischemic, cold pressor, and thermal pain tasks were assessed in African American (n=25) and non-Hispanic White (n=23) pre-menopausal women.
Results. African American women demonstrated significantly lower pain tolerance across tasks compared with Whites (F1,46=6.31, p=0.0156) and also exhibited lower plasma OT levels (AA: 3.90, W: 7.05 pg/mL; p=0.0014). Greater OT levels were correlated with greater tolerance to ischemic pain (r=0.36, p=0.013) and accounted for a marginally significant portion of the ethnic difference in ischemic pain tolerance (B=+0.29, p=0.06). Greater OT was also correlated with greater tolerance of cold pressor pain (r=0.31, p=0.03); however, this association was no longer seen after the variance due to ethnicity was accounted for.
Conclusion. These data suggest that reduced oxytocinergic function may be one of multiple biological factors contributing to the greater sensitivity to experimental ischemic pain, and to the greater burden of some types of clinical pain experienced by African Americans compared with Whites.
Due to taboos surrounding racial science, we are often forced to use medical studies, such as the above, and extrapolate to other areas.  If “African Americans” are low in Oxytocin, then it is very likely that black Africans, in general, are low as well.  It would make no sense to claim that such a deficiency would only impact their pain tolerance, but leave them unaffected in other ways.  There would also be low levels of trust and high levels of psychopathy and crime in societies dominated by black Africans – unless, of course, they are blessed with circumstances such as we find in Mali.
Though there have been a few fleeting articles on the role of Oxytocin (for example, those cited at Amren  here and here) it is clear that more research needs to be done on the subject.
This entry was posted in racial differences and how they manifest themselves/race science. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Oxytocin levels, trust and race

  1. china says:

    Alain Peyrefitte wrote a book called La Société de Confiance (Society of Confiance), it argue’s that high-level capitalism can be only praticated in protestant countries or something similar like Japan and South Korea.
    I think there is no english translation, is a book from 1995.

  2. North American and Northern Europeans in Brazil are known to be royally screwed by Brazilians in all kinds of businesses.
    I always saw this as purely cultural, but now I wonder if this is related to innate trust!? Though white (or mainly white) Brazilians certainly are among the main predators of these white collar crimes.
    People fresh from Northern civilizations have some basic trust that contracts are meant to be kept and that there is punishment for blatant violation of laws and contractual agreements.
    Native Brazilians get cheated less because they are known to take revenge: beatings, murder, contract revenge. The victim’s close police friend might beat his enemy, kill him. Or he simply might plant the 500 gram cocaine bag from the last drug bust in your enemy’s car.
    So foreigners are feared much less and thus easier preyed on.
    It is interesting: if you get robbed, violently, or by white collar crime, and resist violently, this is acceptable. Now if you meddle in the mugger’s business and attack a mugger that robbed an unrelated old lady, then you messed with the mugger. You interfered in his business, without justification, and thus will be a target of his revenge.
    Any comments?

    • Larry says:

      That last paragraph sounds like California.

    • Gilles says:

      Northern Europeans getting screwed by Iberians, this sounds like EU too.
      Portuguese in France also behave this way, minus the corrupt police complicities. And Spaniards to a lesser extent… This propensity to take revenge, this lack of empathy for any living creature having the bad luck to be under their rules (whether colonized indigenes or domestic animals), this total unability to put oneself into another’s people shoes, those are typical traits of the Iberians.
      Another thing typical of Iberians, and also of North-africans, is their grinny, all-teeth, fake smiles, many of them sport all the time, and of which they seem very proud. Their loud, late at night way of life, their superficial esthetic, all these things point toward a very false emotional system. When you compare this to the melancholy, the moodiness of northern and central Europeans, and especially of the Slavs, you may wonder if there is not an oxytocin gradient in european populations stretching from East to West, the latter having the lowest levels of all.
      Russians, for example, have the reputation to not smile (and to be boring, bad people for the latins who portray them). Yes, they don’t smile very often, but when they do, they are sincere… They long for emotional sincerety and stability. On the other hand, the Iberians, their motto could be “To cheat and let die”. They make fun of you, and make you feel stupid when they see you don’t think like them. Not too long ago, French people, especially those of the countryside, were behaving in way far closer to eastern and central europeans, but now it is different…

  3. 150+ says:

    Actually, the GG genotype, which codes for empathy is the ancestral one. Nice try.

  4. An Unmarried Man says:

    Where do we delineate between trust and naivete?

  5. uh says:

    Also not listed … Israel / Diaspora.

  6. The Other Eugenicist says:

    I wonder when we will start to see attacks by RPG-wielding mobs of Mestizo drug runners north of the border?

  7. Go West says:

    It [Mali] is one of the safest places in black Africa.

  8. The Other Eugenicist says:

    Because trust can be misplaced and exploited, I would expect strong mechanism to have evolved for detecting those you can trust and those you cannot.
    Some people seem to call those mechanisms prejudice. I call them useful tools.

  9. Daniel says:

    The evolutionary explanation of this phenomenon, an increased level of oxytocin in White populations, is speculated as the result of decreased resources in cold environments with long winters. Social cohesion needed to be greater, and trust had to be implicit for the survival of the group. The results of European, particularly Scandinavian immigration from African and Asia is yet to be fully understood. It is likely to be socially destructive far sooner than the imported populations will adapt evolutionarily (which is not likely ever to happen in quasi-socialist nations.)

  10. Abubakr Rono says:

    There is something that makes this reaserch fatally flawed the concept of race for one is a social invention and not a scientific one case in point Aricans from afica are the most genetically diverse people in the world and making a connection between one african diaspora population and the larger group as a whole rubbisshes any presumtive leaps that can be made. Further more what is striking if blacks have a lower pain threshhold is it also a mental cognitive shift through experience of constatly being in pain. Finally The very core and foundations of science were and are based on muslim schoolars interpretations of the quran which makes mute the incompetence of this 7th century religion so while you wrote this thank the muslim religious schoolra who brought you algebra,algorithm that made this entire affair and reaserch possible and by extention you will be thanking Allah — —— ——- (edited for profanity by JAY).

    • jewamongyou says:

      Not that you’ll actually read it, but this essay documents why many scientists publicly claim race is only a social construct: http://jewamongyou.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/race-1.pdf
      In a nutshell, to recognize otherwise would seriously endanger their careers and jeopardize their safety.
      As for Muslim scientists having formed the core of science, this is rubbish. I don’t deny that there have been important Muslim/Arab scholars (or “schoolars”, as you call them), but it’s a stretch to say they formed the foundations of science. They built on what they learned from the ancient Greeks.

      • Daniel says:

        Abubakr Rono, your understanding of the term ‘construct’ is not correct. It doesn’t mean ‘false’. For example, the taxonomic scale, even without race, is a construct. Species don’t *actually* exists; genuses don’t exists, and neither do families, orders, phyla, or kingdoms. These categories are created as a way to order and understand the world. As a way of ordering and understanding the world, “race” is a very strong category. Anthropologists have had a hard time defining race, however, and many place the sociopolitical expediency over a scientific body of knowledge, so we get the promotion of the meme “race doesn’t exist” by a pass-it-down-the-line effect — misunderstandings are increased as the meme gets passed on.

  11. jewamongyou says:

    Re: Daniel,
    Great point.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *