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Testosterone, Facial Symmetry and Cooperation in the Prisoners’ Dilemma

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Abstract

Recent research has analyzed how individual characteristics, like the exposure to different hormones and symmetry, affect decision-making and strategic behaviour. The present article investigates the effect of symmetry, of exposure to testosterone (T) in utero and during puberty and of current T on cooperation in a Prisoners’ Dilemma Game (PDG). T is a hormone with well known effect on males’ behaviour, and that promotes activities that seek to increase reproductive success. Fluctuating Asymmetry (FA) reflects the ability of the organism to maintain a stable development and it is usually employed as a variable reflecting genetic quality (low FA values are thought to signal higher genetic quality). Our results show that subjects with intermediate levels of second to fourth digit ratio (a proxy of exposure to T in utero) and with high FA cooperate more often in the PDG. We also observe that the latter effect is due to the fact that FA has an impact on subjects’ expectations about the behaviour of their counterpart in the game. These results reinforce the described link between markers related to genetic quality and cooperative behaviour. This possible linkage of individual condition and pro-social behaviour in humans clearly merits further attention.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh in its series ESE Discussion Papers with number 192.

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Length: 28
Date of creation: Nov 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:edn:esedps:192

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Keywords: Testosterone; Cooperation; Prisoners’ dilemma; Fluctuating asymmetry; Facial masculinity; 2D:4D.;

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Cited by:
  1. Pablo Branas-Garza & Jaromir Kovarik & Levent Neyse, 2013. "Second-to-Fourth Digit Ratio has a Non-Monotonic Impact on Altruism," Working Papers 13-09, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  2. Burkhard Schipper, 2014. "Sex hormones and choice under risk," Working Papers 147, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  3. Buser, Thomas, 2012. "Digit ratios, the menstrual cycle and social preferences," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 457-470.
  4. Pablo Brañas-Garza & Jaromír Kovárík, 2013. "Digit Ratios and Social Preferences: A Comment on Buser (2012)," Working Papers 13-31, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  5. Burkhard Schipper, 2012. "Sex Hormones and Competitive Bidding," Working Papers 128, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  6. Drichoutis, Andreas & Nayga, Rodolfo, 2012. "Do risk and time preferences have biological roots?," MPRA Paper 37320, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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