It can raise levels of aggression, but
can it also raise levels of truth-telling?
Many studies have focused on how an increase in testosterone can increase aggressive behavior. However, studies have also shown that testosterone leads to less selfish behavior.
German researchers devised an experiment where men could lie without being caught. They gave testosterone to half the men, and discovered that the men with more testosterone lied less:
Testosterone is known to influence brain development and reproductive physiology but also plays an important role in social behavior. While most studies have investigated a potential association between testosterone and aggressive behavior, two recent studies suggest that testosterone may also increase prosocial behavior or lead to less selfish behavior in certain situations. We therefore investigate a link between testosterone and self-serving lying. A prominent interpretation of the existing evidence on the role of testosterone in social behavior is that the hormone enhances dominance behavior, i.e., behavior intended to gain high social status, which in humans can be aggressive or prosocial depending on the context. Recent research suggests that pride may have evolved as an affective mechanism for motivating such status seeking behavior. Pride is indirectly linked to status seeking because it is an inward directed emotion that signals high status or ego. It has been speculated that testosterone helps translate such motivation into action, for example, in acts of heroic altruism. Importantly, an effect of testosterone on behavior via pride should also work if behavior cannot be observed by others and an individual’s status in the eyes of the others may therefore not be directly affected.
Testosterone Administration Reduces Lying in Men, PLoSOne>>
Photo: Jack Lemmon and Kevin Spacey in the movie "Glengarry Glen Ross"