What is it about?

While strong claims have been made that testosterone increases risk-taking, the existing literature is inconclusive. We conducted a testosterone administration study in 80 females to investigate the effect of administered testosterone on a behavioral risk-taking task, and found no evidence for any effects on risk taking. This conclusion was further supported by a meta-analysis that combined the results of comparable existing studies, which suggests that the effect of administered testosterone on risk-taking in women is very small, if any effect exists at all.

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Why is it important?

Events such as the financial crisis of 2008 raised the question whether heightened testosterone levels were related to exacerbated financial risk-taking, which in turn caused the collapse of the market. Our work, however, raises doubts about the commonly suggested direct link between testosterone and risk-taking, at least in females.


Conducting this study was an exciting and novel experience to us as we aimed to implement best practices in science to allow us to draw unbiased conclusions. Specifically, we preregistered our analyses and remained blind about which group of participants received testosterone versus placebo during the entire process (i.e., from data collection, to analysis, to writing the manuscript, and even during the reviewing stage!). Throughout the submission process, we felt very supported by the editor and team of reviewers, and we hope to inspire other scientist to implement a similar approach.

Lena Schaefer
Boston University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: No evidence for a causal effect of exogenous testosterone on risky decision-making in women: An experiment and meta-analysis., Decision, August 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/dec0000192.
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