Testosterone makes men feel less wrong
Men want more testosterone to increase their sex drive as they age. Testosterone-replacement therapy is aimed at improving not only their sex drive but other aspects of men’s health including a low sense of wellbeing in many middle-aged men.
The hormone testosterone plays an important role in men’s health and helps to maintain muscle mass, bone density, sperm production, overall mood and wellbeing, including sex drive.
But what are the potential negative effects of increased testosterone?
A new study shows that testosterone makes men impulsive and less likely to question their reaction.
Previous studies have associated the sex hormone with aggression and disorders linked to poor impulse control but the psychological processes that take place are not clear so far.
The group that received testosterone answered approximately 20 per cent fewer question correctly than the group that received the placebo.
A study was conducted by researchers from Caltech, the Wharton School, Western University and ZRT laboratory to test the hypothesis that higher levels of testosterone reduced cognitive reflection and increased the tendency for men to rely on their intuition or gut instinct.
Cognitive reflection is the decision making process by which a person will stop to determine whether his gut reaction makes any sense.
This study which was the largest of its kind, recruited 243 men who were randomly selected and given a dose of testosterone gel or a placebo gel before taking a Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) which estimated their capacity to override incorrect intuitive judgements with correct responses after deliberation.
The participants were also given a math task to control for engagement, motivation level and basic math skills.
CRT included questions such as these: A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
Most people prone to relying on their gut instinct would say 10 cents. But that would be incorrect because then the bat would only costs 90 cents more than the ball. The correct answer is that the ball costs 5 cents and the bat costs $1.05. This another person may realise through cognitive reflection.
The participants in this study were not given a time limit to answer the questions and were offered $1 for each correct answer and an additional $2 if they answered all correctly.
The findings showed that testosterone reduced CRT scores. The group that received testosterone answered approximately 20 per cent fewer questions correctly than the group that received the placebo. The testosterone group also gave incorrect answers more quickly and correct answers more slowly than the placebo group.
The same results were not seen in the basic math skills test. The results of this study show a causal link between testosterone and cognition and decision-making in men.
Testosterone is generally thought to increase the male drive for social status and enhance confidence. Researchers think that the testosterone drives men to feel confident about their answers that they are right and thus there will be no self-doubt to correct their mistakes.
The testosterone is either inhibiting the process of mentally checking the answers or increasing the intuitive feeling that their answers are right.
This brings us back to question the effects of increases testosterone in men and if men will become too bold to think that they know everything even if they don’t.
Source: Psychological Science