The role that hormones play in decision making has been debated for years and years. Many believe that testosterone, the main sex hormone found in males, causes aggression, and cold immoral decisions. Interestingly, a new study out of Texas finds that testosterone may have a more complicated relationship with morals than previously thought.
Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin say that testosterone supplements actually made people more inclined to make more traditionally moral decisions, a finding that is largely in contrast to all previous studies involving testosterone and ethics…
In the past, previous studied had indicated that increased levels of testosterone were linked to less emotional, utilitarian decision making. So, researchers were surprised to see that participants who received genuine supplements were actually less likely to choose the greater good, and appeared to become more sensitive to traditional moral norms. Even more confounding, participants in the study with naturally occurring high levels of the hormone did in fact make more utilitarian decisions and strayed away from moral norms.
Considering how often studies seem to get disproved, the science is in flux and rarely settled. No doubt, this won’t be the last word on the role of testosterone, particularly since it goes against the body of existing research. Nevertheless, some food for thought.
As the UT professor Bertram Gawronski said, “The current work challenges some dominant hypotheses about the effects of testosterone on moral judgments. Our findings echo the importance of distinguishing between causation and correlation in research on neuroendocrine determinants of human behavior, showing that the effects of testosterone supplements on moral judgments can be opposite to association between naturally occurring testosterone and moral judgments.”
So testosterone supplements for the “normals” to make our society more moral?