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Testosterone vs oxytocin

Testosterone Makes Us Less Cooperative and More Egocentric

There is a tension between cooperation and self-orientated behaviour: although groups might benefit from a collective intelligence, collaborating too closely can lead to an uncritical groupthink, ending in decisions that are bad for all.

"When we are making decisions in groups, we tread a fine line between cooperation and self-interest: too much cooperation and we may never get our way, but if we are too self-orientated, we are likely to ignore people who have real insight," explains Dr Wright.

Attempts to understand the biological mechanisms behind group decision making, have tended to focus on the factors that promote cooperation, and research has shown that people given a boost of the hormone oxytocin tend to be cooperative. Now, in a study recently published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers have shown that the hormone testosterone has the opposite effect - it makes people act less cooperatively and more egocentrically.

"Our behaviour seems to be moderated by our hormones - we already know that oxytocin can make us more cooperative, 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.”

Commenting on the findings, Dr John Williams, Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the Trust, said:

"Cooperating with others has obvious advantages for sharing skills and experience, but we know it doesn't always work, particularly if one alpha male or alpha female dominates the decision making. This result helps us understand at a hormonal level the factors that can disrupt our attempts to work together."


Source: sciencedaily.com