Hear the word “testosterone” and the first thing you might think is aggression.
But new research from the University of Bonn shows that the oft-misunderstood hormone may foster social behavior and honest interactions.
Researchers gave 46 people testosterone gel and 45 people a placebo. The next day, all 91 people were invited to roll the dice in private, report the numbers they landed on, and receive money based on their results—with the higher rollers netting more cash. After paying out the participants, the researchers found that men who received the testosterone gel self-reported their numbers more honestly.
Here’s why: High levels of testosterone increase your sense of pride and boost your self image—and cheating puts both in jeopardy, say researchers. With a few dollars on the line, participants just weren’t willing to take that risk.
But testosterone does way more than keep you honest. Studies have found that not only does the hormone influence the way you act—but the way you act can influence your T-levels, too. Here are six more crazy things testosterone helps you do. (Plus: Discover the amazing ways testosterone can help you build bigger muscles, burn off belly fat, and more! Learn the secret in The Testosterone Transformation.)
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Win the Girl
Researchers from Wayne State University compared two groups of men competing to win the attention of an attractive woman and found that men with lower testosterone didn’t even stand a chance. Men with the highest T-levels were more assertive, controlled the conversation, and clicked better with women.
Avoid an Untimely Death
What can “T” do for you? For starters, how about delaying your date with the grim reaper? Low levels of testosterone have been linked to type 2 diabetes and obesity. What’s more, some studies have shown that men with lower levels stand a greater chance of suffering from heart disease. (Do you feel you have low T? Discover How Testosterone Makes You a Man.)
Have Sex in Sync
Did you know your body times its peak T-levels to her menstrual cycle? In a study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, researchers found that your testosterone peaks every 28 days and also on the weekends—which is when men report having the most sex. Plus, sex with new or multiple partners sends your levels skyrocketing, according to the research. (Boost your bedroom skills with these 16 Ways to Heat Up Your Sex Life.)
Be an Optimist
Men who watched porn experienced a 35 percent spike in testosterone an hour to 90 minutes after viewing, according to research in The Archives of Sexual Behavior. And—no surprise—they really enjoyed it. After watching the erotic videos, the men reported greater levels of energy and optimism. (We can hear the excuses now: “But it cheers me up, honey!”)
Cause a Financial Crisis
Researchers studied 98 men to compare their T-levels with their willingness to take financial risks in a computer simulation. The results: Men with more testosterone were willing to invest more money. So can we sort of blame testosterone for the recession?