The Problem with Women and Testosterone!

Well, perhaps the main problem is the effect it has on the men we work with… Women have testosterone too and artificially increasing our levels of it has some interesting effects, as you’ll see if you read on!

Testosterone is the male sex hormone and in a recent experiment by University College, London it was given to women in an attempt to see what differences in behaviour it wrought. They wanted to see what effect it had on group working; how the balance is struck between promoting one’s own ideas and thoughts and ambitions, and considering the needs of the group. Problem solving within groups can have have an advantage over individual solutions. (For more on how women compete see We Women DO Compete)

Testosterone Fuelled Women

To explore this tension further the researchers chose 17 women and paired them with a stranger; they were then asked to solve a computer based problem.

On one occasion each pair of women were given a testosterone supplement and on a second occasion a placebo was administered. Results showed that when they had taken the testosterone they worked less well together and tended to prefer their own solution to that of their partner.

Nick Wright, who led the research said:
“Our behaviour seems to be moderated by our hormones – we already know that oxytocin can make us more cooperative, (JCW see  a previous post on this Neuroeconomics-put women in charge) but if this were the only hormone acting on our decision-making in groups, this would make our decisions very skewed.

“We have shown that in fact testosterone also affects our decisions, by making us more egotistical. Most of the time, this allows us to seek the best solution to a problem, but sometimes, too much testosterone can help blind us to other people’s views. This can be very significant when we are talking about a dominant individual trying to assert his or her opinion in, say, a jury.”

Or at work…

You can read the full research paper here.

Photo Credit: Rawku5

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Posted on February 8th, 2012 by

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