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Men under the influence of testosterone tend to make decisions based on gut feeling
Testosterone is considered a male sex hormone, although the hormone actually occurs in the body of women and men. However, testosterone is found in men in higher concentrations and with different effects. Scientists have now studied the effects of the hormone on male thinking processes and found that high testosterone levels inhibit cognitive self-reflection and promote intuitive decisions. Decision-making is therefore largely influenced by the hormone.
In his current study, the research team led by Prof. Colin Camerer from the California Institute of Technology used 243 test subjects to check whether men were more likely to rely on their intuitive judgments and reduce cognitive reflection under the influence of high testosterone concentrations. The scientists were able to clearly confirm this hypothesis in the investigations. Due to the influence of testosterone, men no longer check to what extent their gut feeling really makes sense, Camerer and colleagues report in a press release from the university.
Decision making influenced by testosterone
According to the researchers, the study participants were given either a high dose of testosterone or a placebo before taking a test (cognitive reflection test) to check their decision-making. In the test, the test subjects were given tasks such as the following: “A bat and a ball cost a total of 1.10 euros. The bat costs 1 euro more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? ”Intuitively, many people would answer here that the ball costs 10 cents, but that's wrong. Because then the bat would cost 1.10 euros and the total would be 1.20 euros. The correct answer is: the ball costs 5 cents and the bat costs 1.05 euros.
Less correct answers under the influence of testosterone
According to the researchers, anyone who relies on their gut feeling tends to get the wrong answer when doing appropriate tests, while other people recognize their initial mistake through cognitive reflection and arrive at the correct answer. The results show that far fewer correct answers were achieved in the testosterone group than in the placebo group, the US scientists report. On average, the test subjects under the influence of testosterone answered 20 percent fewer questions correctly. The participants in the testosterone group also gave incorrect answers more quickly and were slower to get their correct answers.
Increased Self-Confidence Cause of Changed Decision Making?
The current study results "show a clear and robust causal effect of testosterone on human cognition and decision making", says Prof. Camerer. The subjects in the testosterone group were more inclined to make intuitive judgments, although the first guess was usually wrong, the US scientist reports. Either the testosterone inhibits the process of mental control of your own thinking or it increases the feeling that the intuitive decision must definitely be correct. The scientists suspect the second point, that is, quasi in an increased self-confidence, the explanation for the observed phenomenon. This increases testosterone's self-confidence and those affected do not have enough self-doubt to correct their mistakes, explains Prof. (fp)