Monday, May 16, 2011

Testosterone and economic risk aversion.

Here is a curious finding... people with low or high levels of testosterone are less aversive to economic risk:
Testosterone is positively associated with risk-taking behavior in social domains (e.g., crime, physical aggression). However, the scant research linking testosterone to economic risk preferences presents inconsistent findings. We examined the relationship between endogenous testosterone and individuals’ economic preferences (i.e., risk preference, ambiguity preference, and loss aversion) in a large sample (N = 298) of men and women. We found that endogenous testosterone levels have a significant U-shaped association with individuals’ risk and ambiguity preferences, but not loss aversion. Specifically, individuals with low or high levels of testosterone (more than 1.5 SD from the mean for their gender) were risk and ambiguity neutral, whereas individuals with intermediate levels of testosterone were risk and ambiguity averse. This relationship was highly similar in men and women. In contrast to received wisdom regarding testosterone and risk, the present data provide the first robust evidence for a nonlinear association between economic preferences and levels of endogenous testosterone.
[Note: Mean salivary testosterone concentrations were 86.5 pg/mL (SD = 26.0) for men and 14.2 pg/mL (SD = 7.0) for women]


  1. This statement is false: "Testosterone is positively associated with risk-taking behavior in social domains (e.g., crime, physical aggression)." What's actually the case is excessive levels of testosterone are associated with these behaviors. Normal levels promote calmness, health, and well-being.


  2. natselrox6:48 AM

    This was published in Nature in 2009... From the press release ( :

    "The popular idea that testosterone always makes people more aggressive has been debunked by researchers. A team based in Switzerland has shown that the hormone can make people behave more fairly in an effort to defend their social status.

    Ernst Fehr, an experimental economist at the University of Zurich, and his colleagues used the 'ultimatum bargaining' game to test how testosterone would affect behaviour in a group of 121 women. Counter-intuitively, women who were given testosterone bargained more fairly."

    Continue reading at the link...

    Here's the apposite article: