Next time you see a man who’s made a poor judgment call, don’t blame the poor guy. Blame testosterone.
The sex hormone associated with a sense of machismo makes men confident — maybe too confident, according to a new study from Caltech, the Wharton School, Western University, and ZRT Laboratory.
The nearly 250 men in the study were either given testosterone or a placebo, then asked to solve questions, like this math problem: A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
The guys who just rubbed testosterone gel on themselves were more likely to answer quickly and wrongly: 10 cents. Those who lathered up with a placebo gel tended to take a little more time and guess correctly: The ball costs 5 cents and the bat costs $1.05.
The testosterone-fueled participants answered, on average, 20 percent fewer questions correctly.
The testosterone either rendered guys less capable of performing a mental double-check, or simply made them too confident about their speedy decisions, said Caltech’s Colin Camerer, the Robert Kirby professor of behavioral economics, in a statement.
“We think it works through confidence enhancement. If you’re more confident, you’ll feel like you’re right and will not have enough self-doubt to correct mistakes,” Camerer says.
This is bad news for medication that uses testosterone to increase sex drive, the researchers say. Because if there’s one thing this world definitely does not need more of, it’s overly confident men making hasty decisions.