rocket science & testosterone

No, I’m not trying to suggest that spaceship designers/engineers have to be male. That would be a) stereotypical & b) incorrect as well, given that women also produce a certain amount of this hormone. But I wanted to catch your attention & direct it to a post by Ed Yong on Not exactly rocket science, where he discusses a recent bit of research on the influence of testosterone on behaviour. I first saw this story in the NZ Herald (there’s a copy of the article here) when the husband drew my attention to it. This is an interesting piece of research because it shows (again) just how strong the power of placebo can be: women who believed that they’d received testosterone (even if they’d actually received a placebo) behaved in the stereotypical belligerent way – but women actually under the influence of testosterone behaved more altruistically than expected. Fascinating stuff.

4 thoughts on “rocket science & testosterone”

  • The part about Placebo Power shows correlation, but the causation is unclear… women were asked which pill they’d taken after the sharing / bargaining game. Those who had followed an aggressive, greedy strategy tended to claim that they had been under the influence of testosterone. Sounds like self-exoneration, combined with received opinions about what testosterone should do.
    women actually under the influence of testosterone behaved more altruistically than expected.
    Don’t know if “more altruistic” is the right term. The way the game works, with the ‘responder’ in a position to shoot both players in the foot if she thought the ‘proposer’ had made an insultingly unfair offer, the testosterone-influenced proposers could have benefited from the more even shares they were proposing. So it’s “enlightened self-interest”. In this interpretation, “women actually under the influence of testosterone behaved more rationally than expected.”

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