Impulsivity may be the height of masculinity. According to a study from the California Institute of Technology, higher levels of testosterone increase impulsiveness in men.
After giving a group of men a dose of testosterone, researchers tested the participants’ ability to reflect on intuitive judgements and think about the choices they made. In terms of reflection, the test group performed worse than the control group that was not given a dose of testosterone.
Participants solved math problems and brain teasers, which often require reflection before coming to the correct answer. Researchers found that test group members were more likely to stick to their initial answers and, when they did change their answers, were slower to come to the correct response than the control group.
Lead researcher Colin Camerer believes the increased testosterone impairs the brain’s ability to check itself, and said that “The testosterone is either inhibiting the process of mentally checking your work or increasing the intuitive feeling that ‘I’m definitely right.”
While these results could suggest that the primary linkage between gender and impulsiveness may be testosterone and not genes, it is worth nothing that the research specifically studied the rise in testosterone compared between men.
Photo: Ben_Kerckx, CC-BY
Savannah McCoy is a freelancer and photojournalist based in Athens, Georgia.