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Single dose testosterone administration impairs cognitive reflection in men

Nave, Gideon and Nadler, Amos and Zava, David and Camerer, Colin (2017) Single dose testosterone administration impairs cognitive reflection in men. Psychological Science, 28 (10). pp. 1398-1407. ISSN 0956-7976. doi:10.1177/0956797617709592.

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In nonhumans, the sex steroid testosterone regulates reproductive behaviors such as fighting between males and mating. In humans, correlational studies have linked testosterone with aggression and disorders associated with poor impulse control, but the neuropsychological processes at work are poorly understood. Building on a dual-process framework, we propose a mechanism underlying testosterone’s behavioral effects in humans: reduction in cognitive reflection. In the largest study of behavioral effects of testosterone administration to date, 243 men received either testosterone or placebo and took the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT), which estimates the capacity to override incorrect intuitive judgments with deliberate correct responses. Testosterone administration reduced CRT scores. The effect remained after we controlled for age, mood, math skills, whether participants believed they had received the placebo or testosterone, and the effects of 14 additional hormones, and it held for each of the CRT questions in isolation. Our findings suggest a mechanism underlying testosterone’s diverse effects on humans’ judgments and decision making and provide novel, clear, and testable predictions.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Material
Nave, Gideon0000-0001-6251-5630
Nadler, Amos0000-0001-5069-5742
Camerer, Colin0000-0003-4049-1871
Additional Information:© 2017 The Authors. Article first published online: August 3, 2017; Received: March 01, 2016; Accepted: April 19, 2017. We thank Jorge Barraza, Austin Henderson, and Garrett Thoelen for research assistance, David Kimball for assay testing, and Justine Carré and James Roney for their insightful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. Action Editor: Steven W. Gangestad served as action editor for this article. The authors declared that they had no conflicts of interest with respect to their authorship or the publication of this article. This work was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ivey Business School, the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics (IFREE), the Russell Sage Foundation, the University of Southern California, the Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires (INSEAD), and Stockholm School of Economics. Author Contributions: All the authors developed the study concept and contributed to the study design. Data collection was performed by research assistants, supervised by G. Nave and A. Nadler. Data analysis and interpretation were performed by G. Nave and A. Nadler under the supervision of C. Camerer. G. Nave and A. Nadler drafted the manuscript. All the authors provided critical revisions and approved the final version of the manuscript for submission. G. Nave and A. Nadler contributed equally to this work. Supplemental Material: Additional supporting information can be found at Open Practices: All data and materials have been made publicly available via the Open Science Framework and can be accessed at The complete Open Practices Disclosure for this article can be found at This article has received badges for Open Data and Open Materials. More information about the Open Practices badges can be found at
Funding AgencyGrant Number
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Ivey Business SchoolUNSPECIFIED
International Foundation for Research in Experimental EconomicsUNSPECIFIED
Russell Sage FoundationUNSPECIFIED
University of Southern CaliforniaUNSPECIFIED
Institut Européen d'Administration des AffairesUNSPECIFIED
Stockholm School of EconomicsUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:testosterone, single administration, cognitive reflection, dual process, impulse control, neuroeconomics, open data, open materials
Issue or Number:10
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170428-091020875
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Single-Dose Testosterone Administration Impairs Cognitive Reflection in Men Gideon Nave, Amos Nadler, David Zava, Colin Camerer Psychological Science Vol 28, Issue 10, pp. 1398 - 1407 First Published August 3, 2017
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:77049
Deposited By: Melissa Ray
Deposited On:28 Apr 2017 17:12
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 17:04

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