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Nat Commun. 2018 Jul 3;9(1):2433. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04923-0.

Single-dose testosterone administration increases men's preference for status goods.

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Marketing Department, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, 3730 Walnut St., JMHH #700, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, USA.
Finance Department, Ivey Business School, Western University, 1255 Western Rd., London, ON, N6G 0N1, Canada.
Marketing Area, INSEAD, Boulevard de Constance, 77300, Fontainebleau, France.
ZRT Laboratory, 8605 SW Creekside Pl., Beaverton, OR, 97008, USA.
Humanities and Social Sciences Division, California Institute of Technology, 1200 E California Blvd MC 228-77, Pasadena, CA, 91125, USA.
Marketing Area, INSEAD, Boulevard de Constance, 77300, Fontainebleau, France.
Social and Affective Neuroscience (SAN) Team, Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière (ICM), Sorbonne Université, INSERM UMR 1127, CNRS UMR 7225, 75013, Paris, France.


In modern human cultures where social hierarchies are ubiquitous, people typically signal their hierarchical position through consumption of positional goods-goods that convey one's social position, such as luxury products. Building on animal research and early correlational human studies linking the sex steroid hormone testosterone with hierarchical social interactions, we investigate the influence of testosterone on men's preferences for positional goods. Using a placebo-controlled experiment (N = 243) to measure individuals' desire for status brands and products, we find that administering testosterone increases men's preference for status brands, compared to brands of similar perceived quality but lower perceived status. Furthermore, testosterone increases positive attitudes toward positional goods when they are described as status-enhancing, but not when they are described as power-enhancing or high in quality. Our results provide novel causal evidence for the biological roots of men's preferences for status, bridging decades of animal behavioral studies with contemporary consumer research.

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