Is Testosterone To Blame For Men Making Snap Judgments?
A new study reveals that testosterone makes hot-headed men snap first and ask logical questions later. The research found that men who were administered testosterone doses later performed poorly in cognitive reflection tests vis-à-vis the group, which was treated with a placebo.
Testosterone is the basic male sex hormone present and is also an anabolic steroid. This particular hormone is also responsible for the development of male reproductive organs such as the prostate and testis.
The hormone also enhances secondary sexual aspects in men such as increase in bone mass and muscle, as well as body hair growth.
Impulsive Judgments In Men Linked To Testosterone?
Researchers from Western University, California University of Technology, the Wharton School, and ZRT Laboratory conducted the new study. The researchers conducted an experiment to test their hypothesis.
The researchers assumed that increased levels of testosterone causes men to make impulsive judgments. They hypothesized that men relied on their instincts instead of using cognitive reflection.
To prove the hypothesis, the researchers conducted one of the largest, first of its kind experiment involving 243 healthy men. The subjects, who were chosen randomly, received a dosage of placebo gel or testosterone before the researchers carried out the cognitive reflection test. The participants did not have any inkling as to what type of dose was administered to them.
Along with the cognitive reflection technique, a maths test was also given to the participants for motivation level, participant engagement, and to test their basic mathematics skills. The questions in the cognitive test were akin to — "a bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs one dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?"
Blame Testosterone For Snap Judgments?
The common answer that immediately strikes one is that the ball's price is 10 cents. However, this answer is wrong as then the bat's price would amount to 90 cents. The correct answer is that the bat costs $1.05 and the ball 5 cents.
The test was not a time bound experiment so the participants got as much time they needed. Apart from the limitless time, they were also promised a dollar for every right answer and an extra two dollars for, if all the questions were answered correctly.
The team discovered that people who relied on their gut were more prone to answering 10 cents at the first instant. However, using cognitive reflection, another may realize the initial error and give the right answer.
The study also revealed that the group of men who received testosterone gel scored considerably lower vis-à-vis the group that was administered the placebo gel dose. On an average, the testosterone gel group answered 20 percent lesser questions correctly, compared to the placebo control group.
"What we found was the testosterone group was quicker to make snap judgments on brain teasers where your initial guess is usually wrong," Colin Camerer from Caltech, one of the researchers of the study, surmised.
The researchers shared that the men who were administered with testosterone "gave incorrect answers more quickly, and correct answers more slowly than the placebo group." However, the results were not similar for the basic mathematics tests that were conducted for both groups.
The scientists think that this phenomenon may be linked with testosterone's effect on increasing the confidence level in humans.
The study's findings have been published in journal Psychological Science, on Friday, April 28.
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