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:
AbstractIt 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.
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.