Contrary to popular perception, higher levels of testosterone during a competition has no effect on a person's chances of winning a race.
Kathleen Casto said that many people in the scientific literature and in popular culture link testosterone increases to winning.
Casto added that in this study of intercollegiate cross country runners, they found an increase in testosterone during a race regardless of the athletes' finish time and one of the runners with the highest increases in testosterone finished with one of the slowest times.
Casto continued that it is surprising that not only does competition itself, irrespective of outcome, substantially increase testosterone, but also that testosterone begins to increase before the competition even begins, long before status of winner or loser are determined.
This research follows on the heels of a 2013 study of women athletes in a variety of sports by Edwards and Casto, published in Hormones and Behavior and they found that, provided levels of the stress hormone cortisol were low, the higher a woman's testosterone, the higher her status with teammates.
Higher baseline levels of testosterone have been linked to long-term strength and power, such as higher status positions in companies.
Casto added that although short-term surges of testosterone in competition have been associated with winning, they may instead be indicators of a psychological strength for competition, the drive to win.