Monday, April 27, 2009

Failure to find effect of estrogen or testosterone on economic behavior.

Zethraeus et al.(open access) obtain a result that is contrary to expectations generated by previous studies:
Existing correlative evidence suggests that sex hormones may affect economic behavior such as risk taking and reciprocal fairness. To test this hypothesis we conducted a double-blind randomized study. Two-hundred healthy postmenopausal women aged 50–65 years were randomly allocated to 4 weeks of treatment with estrogen, testosterone, or placebo. At the end of the treatment period, the subjects participated in a series of economic experiments that measure altruism, reciprocal fairness, trust, trustworthiness, and risk attitudes. There was no significant effect of estrogen or testosterone on any of the studied behaviors.


  1. What makes me wonder are the interpretation of these results:

    estrogen or testosterone does not influence economic behavior

    a) in general (including all human beings, male and female, under all circumstances?
    b) for women in their postmenstrual phase?
    c) for women in their postmenstrual phase under certain laboratory conditions (calm? etc.)?

    Disclaimer: I am not a behavioral scientist/medical doctor, so any grave errors of misunderstanding are mine.

    What do you think?

  2. I would choose your option (C). The results need to be confirmed by others even for the experimental group. Also, pre-menopausal women and men might yield different results under the same conditions.

  3. Anonymous6:11 PM

    I am a postmenopasal woman, but I think I suffered with some depression due to loss of parents. I have experienced and I am currently reseraching. I have been also on this road of living celbate lifestyle. Here is what I experienced I am currently 48yrs old. I sexually felt like my libo went down I was 45-46 yrs old strange to others I thought this was pretty good. Since, my divorce been battling with sexuality anb singlehood bad relationships, but currently I experienced although hormonal imbalance which I believe affected me mentally too ex. taking things way too personal being extra emotional, also hormone surge increase of acne and sexuality. I found my body so reactive towards men ex. this was a older gentelman came to visit me we talked he went home he was not my cup of tea, but I found myself suddenly feeling sexually aroused I quickly brushed it off. Another, thing I found very upseting to say the lease Im a educated, intellingent strong indenpdent woman. Past couple years I experience even with missing menstral peroids I get these what I call dipps in the road with men younger than me mine you Im not putting myself down Im attractive but not no Holly Berry. But the younger men have said that upon meeting me they felt something about me, but could not explain what? Of course I enaged and although pleasureable experience some would say whats wrong with that? Well, I feel a divine calling on my life I am to be ex. how to l live a celbate life. I personally, believe if women are not careful they can send off wrong signals of sexual harmones that certain men (unforunately, in my case the wrong kind of men) their hormones pick up on this signal female harmone sends off any truth to this? If so how one manage it?