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Is Testosterone the Key to Generosity?

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Contrary to the popular belief that too much testosterone can make us aggressively dominant and anti-social, a new study claims that testosterone might actually make us more generous – but with a caveat.

The study, published in the Association for Psychological Science’s Psychological Sciences, comes out of the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University in the Netherlands and suggests that testosterone might play an important role in creating and maintaining social relationships. The outcome being that testosterone might make us more generous; but only if there is no threat of competition and if it has the byproduct of making us look good.

According to lead researcher Maarten Boksem,

[Testosterone] can induce pro-social behavior … when high status and good reputation are best served by positive behavior.

Fifty-four female volunteers ingested a liquid solution several hours before taking part in an investment game; some consumed a placebo while others received a solution with added testosterone.

In the game, those who took the solution with added testosterone chose to give more money back to the investor than their placebo counterparts, suggesting that they felt a responsibility to return the money that was invested in them.

The research contradicts previous studies that suggested that the higher the levels of testosterone, the more anti-social and aggressive the behavior of study participants. Going forward, the Rotterdam researchers hope to run a similar study in men to better flush out the results of the testosterone-generosity survey.

What do you think? Do you think your testosterone levels bump or sink your generosity and social skills?

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