The male hormone, testosterone which plays a key role in sexual and reproductive development, can also obstruct better decision making and increase impulsive behaviour in men, a new study has found.
According to this one of its kind study it was found that men who were given doses of testosterone performed more poorly on a test designed to measure cognitive reflection than a group given a placebo.
The research was conducted on 243 males who were randomly selected to receive a dose of testosterone gel or placebo gel before taking a cognitive reflection test.
“What we found was the testosterone group was quicker to make snap judgments on brain teasers where your initial guess is usually wrong”, said Colin Camerer, Professor at California Institute of Technology in the US. “The testosterone is either inhibiting the process of mentally checking your work or increasing the intuitive feeling that ‘I’m definitely right”, Camerer said.
The results “demonstrate a clear and robust causal effect of (testosterone) on human cognition and decision-making”, the researchers said. They believe that the phenomenon they have observed can be linked to testosterone’s effect of increasing confidence in humans. Testosterone is thought to generally enhance the male drive for social status, and recent studies have shown that confidence enhances status.
“We think it works through confidence enhancement. If you’re more confident, you’ll feel like you’re right and will not have enough self-doubt to correct mistakes,” Camerer said. The results of the study raise questions about potential negative effects of the growing testosterone-replacement therapy industry, which is primarily aimed at reversing the decline in sex drive many middle-aged men experience, Camerer said. “If men want more testosterone to increase sex drive, are there other effects? Do these men become too mentally bold and thinking they know things they don’t?” Camerer asked.
The study is yet to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal 'Psychological Science'.