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Proc Biol Sci. 2012 Jan 7;279(1726):202-8. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.0764. Epub 2011 Jun 1.

Men with elevated testosterone levels show more affiliative behaviours during interactions with women.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Groningen, Groningen 9712 TS, The Netherlands.


Testosterone (T) is thought to play a key role in male-male competition and courtship in many vertebrates, but its precise effects are unclear. We explored whether courtship behaviour in humans is modulated and preceded by changes in T. Pairs of healthy male students first competed in a non-physical contest in which their T levels became elevated. Each participant then had a short, informal interaction with either an unfamiliar man or woman. The sex of the stimulus person did not affect the participants' behaviour overall. However, in interactions with women, those men who had experienced a greater T increase during the contest subsequently showed more interest in the woman, engaged in more self-presentation, smiled more and made more eye contact. No such effects were seen in interactions with other men. This is the first study to provide direct evidence that elevating T during male-male competition is followed by increased affiliative behaviour towards women.

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