IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/plo/pone00/0029842.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Organizing Effects of Testosterone and Economic Behavior: Not Just Risk Taking

Author

Listed:
  • Pablo Brañas-Garza
  • Aldo Rustichini

Abstract

Recent literature emphasizes the role that testosterone, as well as markers indicating early exposure to T and its organizing effect on the brain (such as the ratio of second to fourth finger, ), have on performance in financial markets. These results may suggest that the main effect of T, either circulating or in fetal exposure, on economic behavior occurs through the increased willingness to take risks. However, these findings indicate that traders with a low digit ratio are not only more profitable, but more able to survive in the long run, thus the effect might consist of more than just lower risk aversion. In addition, recent literature suggests a positive correlation between abstract reasoning ability and higher willingness to take risks. To test the two hypotheses of testosterone on performance in financial activities (effect on risk attitude versus a complex effect involving risk attitude and reasoning ability), we gather data on the three variables in a sample of 188 ethnically homogeneous college students (Caucasians). We measure a digit ratio, abstract reasoning ability with the Raven Progressive Matrices task, and risk attitude with choice among lotteries. Low digit ratio in men is associated with higher risk taking and higher scores in abstract reasoning ability when a combined measure of risk aversion over different tasks is used. This explains both the higher performance and higher survival rate observed in traders, as well as the observed correlation between abstract reasoning ability and risk taking. We also analyze how much of the total effect of digit ratio on risk attitude is direct, and how much is mediated. Mediation analysis shows that a substantial part of the effect of T on attitude to risk is mediated by abstract reasoning ability.

Suggested Citation

  • Pablo Brañas-Garza & Aldo Rustichini, 2011. "Organizing Effects of Testosterone and Economic Behavior: Not Just Risk Taking," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 6(12), pages 1-8, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:plo:pone00:0029842
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029842
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0029842
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0029842&type=printable
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:plo:pone00:0029842. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (plosone). General contact details of provider: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/ .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.