Testosterone and its Influence on Mating Behavior

This study looked at the effect of levels of the male hormone testosterone and male behavior to attract a person of the opposite sex. The study showed that high levels of testosterone lead to more dominant behavior among men and also raised the attractiveness of the man to women. It was also noted that when men were confident of their dominance over others, the association of testosterone level with their success over other competitors was more prominent. The authors conclude that testosterone “interacts with people’s explicit dominance motives to regulate behaviors that enhance mating success.”

Studies have shown that in order to sexually attract a female, males adopt various techniques and strategies. One of the most effective strategies adopted by man is to prove himself superior to others, or in other words, to hold a dominant position over other rivals. This is also seen in animals. In fact, animal studies have revealed that this dominating behavior among males is guided by the male hormone – testosterone. However, the role of this hormone in human male behavior, while competing for a woman’s attention, is not completely clear. This study attempted to look into the effects of testosterone levels and mating strategies in human males.

* A total of 76 eligible, non-committed, heterosexual men were selected to participate in the study.
* The volunteers were asked to present themselves for the experiment between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.; their saliva was examined for levels of testosterone; and they were photographed.
* A pair of men were allowed to interact with a female for seven minutes and the whole episode was videotaped.
* At end of the experiment, both men individually answered questions regarding how they fared against each other in terms of attracting the attention of the female. The woman was also asked to rate the men in terms of attractiveness.

* Results showed that higher levels of testosterone meant more dominating behavior among men competing for the female’s attention.
* Results also showed that higher levels of testosterone meant more dislike on the part of the rival male.
* It was also noted that men who felt they were more dominant or superior to their rival tended to have higher testosterone levels and truly a more dominant behavior compared to their rivals.
* Finally, a higher level of testosterone meant a higher score of attractiveness in the female’s ratings of the individual men.

Next steps/Shortcomings
The authors agree that the results of this experiment might not truly mimic a real-life scenario, due to the setting. For example, the pair of men who met the woman did not know each other. This competitor behavior and dislike for each other is different from what it would be in real life when rivals may know each other. The authors also write that females who rated the men in terms of attractiveness might also rate men in terms of sexual as well as personal attractiveness. They suggest that future studies should take into account more real-life situations and must also ask more detailed questions to understand the association between testosterone and mating strategies.

This study shows that levels of testosterone indicate higher dominance among male rivals seeking an attractive female’s attention. The authors suggest that this study adds to the existing evidence that the male hormone, testosterone, is linked to male dominance in humans, just as it is in other animals. Apart from this, the study also shows that high testosterone levels lead to a more intense dislike between rivals, and is the cause for higher attraction ratings by females. The authors “hope that these findings and the novel methodology used here will pave the way for future laboratory investigations of the links between T [testosterone] and human mating behavior.”

For More Information:
Testosterone and Self-Reported Dominance Interact to Influence Human Mating Behavior
Social Psychological and Personality Science, February 2011
By Richard B. Slatcher; Pranjal H. Mehta; Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, and the University of Oregon, Eugene

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.