Swedish researchers have shown that unlike men, women do not engage in risky financial decisions when given testosterone.
Although earlier studies have found correlations between testosterone levels and risky behavior in men, including one that found that male securities traders with more testosterone in their saliva made riskier financial decisions, the latest study has suggested that women are a safer pair of hands on the stock-market trading floor than men when given the hormone.
The latest study led by Magnus Johannesson, an economist at the Stockholm School of Economics, found no "men-like" effects in a group of 200 post-menopausal women.
In the study, women were administered testosterone, oestrogen or a placebo for four weeks and asked to play a series of economic games that measure the player's propensity to take risks, their trust, and their willingness to share resources.
For instance, in the 'dictator game', a player can decide how much of a pot of money they will share with a charity and how much to keep for themselves.
The team thought that the testosterone-taking women would behave more like men, giving less to charity and accepting more risk in an investment game. Yet their results, which are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed no meaningful differences between the women who had taken testosterone or oestrogen and the placebo group2.
"My assumptions have changed a lot," Nature quoted Johannesson, as saying.