Paul J. Zak
|Born||9 February 1962|
|Institution||Claremont Graduate University|
|Alma mater||San Diego State University,University of Pennsylvania|
Paul J. Zak (born 9 February 1962) is an American Neuroeconomist known as a proponent of neuroeconomics. His current work applies neuroscience to build high performance organizations and to understand and guide consumer decisions.
Zak graduated with degrees in mathematics and economics from San Diego State University before acquiring a PhD in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. He is professor at Claremont Graduate University in Southern California. He has studied brain imaging, and was the first to identify the role of oxytocin in mediating trusting behaviors between unacquainted humans. Zak directs the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies  at Claremont Graduate University and is a member of the Neurology Department at Loma Linda University Medical Center. He edited Moral Markets: The Critical Role of Values in the Economy (Princeton University Press, 2008). His book, The Moral Molecule was published in 2012 by Dutton. The book summarizes his findings on oxytocin and discusses the role of oxytocin in human experiences and behaviors such as empathy, altruism, and morality.
Zak's research aims to challenge the thought that people generally are driven primarily to act for what they consider their self-interest, and asks how morality may modulate one's interpretation of what constitutes "self-interest" in one's own personal terms. Methodological questions have arisen in regards to Zak's work, however. Other commentators though have called his work "one of the most revealing experiments in the history of economics."  According to The Moral Molecule, Zak's father was an engineer and he takes an engineering approach to neuroscience, seeking to create predictive models of behavior.
His research and ideas have garnered some criticism, particularly from science writer Ed Yong, pointing out that oxytocin boosts schadenfreude and envy. Oxytocin increases the salience of social cues, suggesting that priming effects in these experiments explain their findings.
Neuroscientist Molly Crockett also disputes Zak's claims, referring to studies that show oxytocin increases gloating, bias at the expense of other groups, and in some cases decreasing cooperation; suggesting oxytocin is as much an "immoral molecule" as 'the moral molecule' Paul Zak claims. His 2012 book The Moral Molecule explores these issues.
Zak has coined the term "neuromanagement" to describe how findings in neuroscience can be used to create organizational cultures that are highly engaging for employees and produce high performance for organizations. He has developed a methodology called Ofactor that quantifies organizational culture and identifies how to continuously improve culture to increase trust, joy, and performance. He has used Ofactor to help organizations ranging from nonprofits to startups to Fortune 50 companies change their cultures. His Ofactor research reflects the approach advocated by his late colleague at Claremont Graduate University, management guru Peter F. Drucker, in which organizations with flat hierarchies empower employees.
Zak's lab has discovered neurologic signals that reflect engagement in stories and predict post-narrative behaviors. Some of this work was funded by DARPA to help the U.S. military reduce conflict. Corporate clients use these services to craft more effective messages and to predict the market impact of advertisements and philanthropic appeals.
Zak is frequently interviewed in the media on topics ranging from economic policy to romantic relationships. His 2011 TED talk on oxytocin and trust has gained over a million views. He was named by Wired magazine as one of the 10 Sexiest Geeks in 2005. He is often called "Dr. Love" and believes in the habit of hugging people to raise oxytocin levels. Zak suggests that intimate contact, using social ritual and social media such as using Twitter and Facebook raises oxytocin levels. He is a frequent public speaker on the neuroscience of daily life, including morality, storytelling, and organizational culture and writes articles for magazines and trade publication on these topics.
Zak is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and has created and voiced science dialog for movies, including The Amazing Spiderman. He is a regular panelist on the Discovery Science program Outrageous Acts of Psych. News organizations often request his expertise on neuroscience. His TV appearances include Fareed Zakaria's GPS on CNN, the John Stossel show on Fox Business, the Dr. Phil show, TakePart Live on Pivot TV, Fox and Friends, Good Morning America, and ABC World News Tonight.
- Paul J. Zak (2012). The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity. Dutton. ISBN 978-0525952817.
- Paul J. Zak (2008). Moral Markets: The Critical Role of Values in the Economy. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691135236.
- Zak, Paul J. (2004). "Neuroeconomics". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 359 (1451): 1737–1710. doi:10.1098/rstb.2004.1544.
- Zak, P. J.; Kurzban, R.; Matzner, W. T. (2004). "The Neurobiology of Trust". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1032: 224–227. doi:10.1196/annals.1314.025. PMID 15677415.
- Kosfeld, M.; Heinrichs, M.; Zak, P. J.; Fischbacher, U.; Fehr, E. (2005). "Oxytocin increases trust in humans". Nature 435 (7042): 673–676. doi:10.1038/nature03701. PMID 15931222.
- Zak, P.; Kurzban, R.; Matzner, W. (2005). "Oxytocin is associated with human trustworthiness". Hormones and Behavior 48 (5): 522–527. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2005.07.009. PMID 16109416.
- Zak, P. J.; Borja, K.; Matzner, W. T.; Kurzban, R. (2005). "The Neuroeconomics of Distrust: Sex Differences in Behavior and Physiology". American Economic Review 95 (2): 360. doi:10.1257/000282805774669709.
- Zak, P. J.; Stanton, A. A.; Ahmadi, S. (2007). Brosnan, Sarah, ed. "Oxytocin Increases Generosity in Humans". PLoS ONE 2 (11): e1128. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001128. PMC 2040517. PMID 17987115.
- Morhenn, V.; Park, J.; Piper, E.; Zak, P. (2008). "Monetary sacrifice among strangers is mediated by endogenous oxytocin release after physical contact". Evolution and Human Behavior 29 (6): 375. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2008.04.004.
- Barraza, J. A.; Zak, P. J. (2009). "Empathy toward Strangers Triggers Oxytocin Release and Subsequent Generosity". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1167: 182–189. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04504.x. PMID 19580564.
- Lin, P. Y.; Grewal, N. S.; Morin, C.; Johnson, W. D.; Zak, P. J. (2013). Boraud, Thomas, ed. "Oxytocin Increases the Influence of Public Service Advertisements". PLoS ONE 8 (2): e56934. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056934. PMC 3584120. PMID 23460821.
- Merolla, J. L.; Burnett, G.; Pyle, K. V.; Ahmadi, S.; Zak, P. J. (2013). "Oxytocin and the Biological Basis for Interpersonal and Political Trust". Political Behavior. doi:10.1007/s11109-012-9219-8.
- Sapra, S.; Beavin, L. E.; Zak, P. J. (2012). Veitia, Reiner Albert, ed. "A Combination of Dopamine Genes Predicts Success by Professional Wall Street Traders". PLoS ONE 7 (1): e30844. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030844. PMC 3265532. PMID 22292056.
- Barraza, J. A.; Alexander, V.; Beavin, L. E.; Terris, E. T.; Zak, P. J. (2015). "The heart of the story: Peripheral physiology during narrative exposure predicts charitable giving". Biological Psychology 105: 138. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2015.01.008.
Zak, P.J. (2015). Neuromanagement: Using Neuroscience to Build High Performance Organizations. In: Organizational Neuroscience. P. Balthazard, D. Waldman, Eds., Emerald Publishers
- TED Talk The Moral Molecule
- TEDx Amsterdam Talk The Science of Good and Evil
- TEDx Amsterdam Women Talk Biological Differences Between Men and Women
- Empathy, Neurochemistry, and the Dramatic Arc on YouTube
- Paul J. Zak, Robert Kurzban and William T. Matzner, "The Neurobiology of Trust", Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1032:224–227, 2004.
- "Center for Neuroeconomic Studies". Neuroeconomicstudies.org. Retrieved 2012-09-18.
- "Center for Neuroeconomic Studies". Neuroeconomicstudies.org. Retrieved 2012-09-18.
- Gittins, Ross (2008). "Most of us are moral most of the time - and so are our markets". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2012-09-18
- Zak, Paul J. "The Neurobiology of Trust". Scientific American. Retrieved 2012-09-18.
- Conlisk, J. (2011). "Professor Zak's empirical studies on trust and oxytocin". Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 78: 160–234. doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2011.01.002.
- Ridley, Matt (2010). The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves. Harper. p. 94. ISBN 978-0061452055.
- Yong, Ed. "Oxytocin is not a love drug. Don’t give it to kids with autism. - Slate Magazine". Slate.com. Retrieved 2012-09-18.
- Chen, F. S.; Kumsta, R.; Heinrichs, M. (2011). "Oxytocin and intergroup relations: Goodwill is not a fixed pie". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108 (13): E45. doi:10.1073/pnas.1101633108.
- Crockett, Molly. "Molly Crockett: Beware neuro-bunk". Ted.com. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
- Paul J. Zak (2014). "The Neuroscience of Trust" (PDF). HR People & Strategy 37(1): 14-17. Retrieved 2015-05-05.
- Byryan Sager (2009-10-30). "Financial Bubbles: Why Do Fools Fall in Love?". SmartMoney.com. Retrieved 2012-09-18.
- Geddes, L. "With this test tube I thee wed". New Scientist 13 February 2010.
- "Paul Zak: Trust, morality -- and oxytocin". TED. July 2011. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
- Kristen Philipkoski (2005-12-18). "2005's 10 Sexiest Geeks". Wired.com. Retrieved 2012-09-18.
- Penenberg, Adam L. (2010-07-01). "Social Networking Affects Brains Like Falling in Love". Fast Company. Retrieved 2012-09-18.
- "Paul Zak | Profile on". Ted.com. Retrieved 2012-09-18.