Paul Zak: The Psychology of the Con

February 11, 2009

Confidence scams have been around since time immemorial. And while we like to think of ourselves as intelligent and “street smart,” we’re still quite willing to place our complete trust in total strangers with regards to such cherished items as our time and our money. Why is that?

In this podcast, we are delighted to once again feature Dr. Paul Zak, the founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University and author of the Moral Molecule blog. Dr. Zak and I discuss the role of the hormone oxytocin in the development of the human emotions of trust and empathy. In addition, we talk about how con artists engage The Human Oxytocin Mediated Attachment System (THOMAS) and hijack it for the purposes of meeting their needs at our expense.

Join us as we delve into the neuroscience of human trust and explain exactly why we are so susceptible to the machinations of these “unconditional nonreciprocators.”