The mismatch effect: when testosterone and status are at odds.

Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin, USA.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 07/2006; 90(6):999-1013. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.90.6.999
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Why do some people strive for high status, whereas others actively avoid it? In the present studies, the authors examined the psychological and physiological consequences of a mismatch between baseline testosterone and a person's current level of status. The authors tested this mismatch effect by placing high and low testosterone individuals into high or low status positions using a rigged competition. In Study 1, low testosterone participants reported greater emotional arousal, focused more on their status, and showed worse cognitive functioning in a high status position. High testosterone participants showed this pattern in a low status position. In Study 2, the emotional arousal findings were replicated with heart rate, and the cognitive findings were replicated using a math test. In Study 3, the authors demonstrate that testosterone is a better predictor of behavior than self-report measures of the need for dominance. Discussion focuses on the value of measuring hormones in personality and social psychology.

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