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Hormones and Social Preferences

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  • Thomas Buser

    (University of Amsterdam)

Abstract

We examine whether social preferences are determined by hormones. We do this by investigating whether markers for the strength of prenatal testosterone exposure (finger length ratios) and current exposure to progesterone and oxytocin (the menstrual cycle) are correlated with choices in social preference games. We find that subjects with finger ratios indicating high prenatal testosterone exposure give less in the trust, ultimatum and public good games and return a smaller proportion in the trust game. The choices of female subjects vary over the menstrual cycle according to a pattern consistent with a positive impact of oxytocin on giving in the trust and ultimatum games and a positive impact of progesterone on altruism. We find no impact for subjects taking hormonal contraceptives. We conclude that both prenatal and current exposure to hormones play an important role in shaping social preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Buser, 2011. "Hormones and Social Preferences," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-046/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20110046
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Pearson, Matthew & Schipper, Burkhard C., 2013. "Menstrual cycle and competitive bidding," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 1-20.
    2. Andreas C. Drichoutis & Rodolfo M. Nayga, Jr., 2015. "Do Risk and Time Preferences Have Biological Roots?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 235-256, July.
    3. Thomas Buser, 2009. "The Impact of Female Sex Hormones on Competitiveness," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 09-082/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    4. Buser, Thomas, 2012. "The impact of the menstrual cycle and hormonal contraceptives on competitiveness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 1-10.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social preferences; 2D:4D; testosterone; progesterone; oxytocin;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D87 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Neuroeconomics

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