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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2006 Jun;90(6):999-1013.

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

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Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin, USA.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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