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Extended Audio Sample The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity Audiobook, by Paul J. Zak Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (106 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Paul J. Zak Narrator: Paul J. Zak Publisher: Brilliance Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2012 ISBN: 9781455892266
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Human beings can be so compassionate—and yet they can also be shockingly cruel. What if there was a hidden master control for human behavior? Switch it on and people are loving and generous. Switch it off and they revert to violence and greed. Pioneering neuroeconomist Paul J. Zak has discovered just such a master switch, a molecule in the human brain.

The Moral Molecule is a firsthand account of this discovery, revealing how evolution built the Golden Rule into our biology. From his laboratory in California to the jungles of Papua New Guinea, Zak takes you on an amazing and exciting journey to what it means to be human.

Zak’s experiments—what science writer Matt Ridley called “the most revealing in the history of economics”—measure a brain chemical called oxytocin found in the bloodstream. His colleagues sometimes call him the vampire economist. His research team has taken blood from thousands of people as they made decisions with money in the lab, played football out on the field, jumped from an airplane, attended a wedding, and many other situations in which human interactions take place. Ascending from molecules to families to entire societies, Zak’s findings reveal how oxytocin can produce a virtuous cycle of love and prosperity.

The Moral Molecule is a journey well beyond common theories about why we make the decisions we do. Zak explains what underlies the great mysteries of human behavior—why some husbands are more faithful than others; why women tend to be more generous than men; why we are sometimes rational and other times irrational. He explores the role of religion in moral behavior, how the moral molecule operates in the marketplace, and—most important, once we understand the moral molecule—how we can consciously use it to make our own lives better.

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Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Miranda | 2/6/2014

    " Loved this book. Another author looks at the role of oxytocin (and other chemicals) and it's effect on human behavior. Quite fascinating! For anyone interested in behavior and its biological underpinnings - this is a must! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Clarence Williams | 1/3/2014

    " Zak has cheapened his good, scientific research into oxytocin by excessively "dumbing it down." It's one thing to write about science for the general public and try to make it an interesting read, but Zak went overboard. This cutesy treatment cheapens important science. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Juli | 12/16/2013

    " The most interesting and easiest to follow section of the book was the last chapter. Most of the earlier sections are written like a brain dump - randomly ordered details printed in the order in which they occurred to the author, making the reading tedious at best. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kcthinker | 12/16/2013

    " Insightful, it has caused me to bree more aware of my actions. This is a good companion to crucial conversions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sylvain | 12/13/2013

    " Good book on the role of oxytocyn on social relations. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dan Hurwitz | 11/14/2013

    " The topic of this book might have made a worthwhile article but, in my opinion, the author worked too hard making it into a book. Evidence of how oxytocin works under varying conditions struck me as murky--certainly not living up to the book's expansive subtitle. There are better reads. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Louis Bouchard | 10/11/2013

    " This book is all about Oxytocin and the behavior that it induces. It was interesting and well presented. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nicole Franco | 9/28/2013

    " Oxytocin is a hell of a molecule! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gary Schechner | 8/23/2013

    " Interesting read and while i enjoyed the science, I am a bit suspect of the methodology. However, I do believe in the power of a hug as Zak suggests. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 False Millennium | 6/30/2013

    " What if there is a master control for human behavior? Using studies and biochemical research, Zak establishes what makes some people compassionate and others lacking in empathy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark | 4/30/2013

    " Probably the most interesting book I've read all year. The author's assertions in areas outside of his immediate expertise are sometimes painfully over-generalized and silly, but the core work is fascinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Arlene | 4/9/2013

    " A hug can go a long way man. It started out strong then at the end it kinda tapered off. Or maybe I lost interest, either/or. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angela | 3/22/2013

    " Was hesitant to start this - but I it's been a great read so far!! I learned a lot of the basic info in school, but the author's ability to tie in modern experiments and examples makes this relatable and enjoyable. Passing it on when I am finished! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Deb | 11/6/2012

    " Interesting points but too simplistic. Cannot boil down human motivations to one chemical. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Justin | 8/26/2012

    " Fine, I got as much from this book as from one of his journal articles. But why was this book-length? Zak goes way out of scope later on, gets anecdotal, and almost journaly, which wasn't the premise, I thought. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bob | 5/8/2012

    " Entertaining read. Oversimplifies the cause of moral behavior and sometimes strays into opinions (vs. science), but definitely offers interesting ideas for discussion. "

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About the Author
Paul J.Zak, Phd, is a professor of economics, management, and psychology at Claremont Graduate University. He is the founding director of Claremont’s Center for Neuroeconomics Studies. His Psychology Today blog is also titled The Moral Molecule. He lives in Southern California.