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Born this way? Prenatal exposure to testosterone may determine behavior in competition and conflict

Brañas-Garza, Pablo, Chowdhury, Subhasish M., Espín, Antonio M. and Nieboer, Jeroen (2023) Born this way? Prenatal exposure to testosterone may determine behavior in competition and conflict. Journal of Economic Psychology, 96. ISSN 0167-4870

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.joep.2023.102623

Abstract

Fetal exposure to sex hormones can have long lasting effects on human behavior. The second-to-fourth digit ratio (DR) is considered a putative marker for prenatal exposure to testosterone (vs estrogens), with higher exposure resulting in lower DR. Even though testosterone is theoretically related to competition, the role of DR in human behavior is debated; and in situations such as bilateral conflict is unknown. We investigate this through a laboratory experiment using a repeated 2-person Tullock contest played in fixed same-gender pairs. Based on a previously obtained large sample of student subjects, we selectively invited participants to the laboratory if their right-hand DR was in the top (High-DR) or bottom (Low-DR) tercile for their gender. Unbeknownst to the subjects, we performed a controlled match of the DR types (Low-Low, Low-High, High-High). This novel methodology allows us to analyze the causal effect of DR on behavior for the first time in the literature. We find that Low-DR (vs High-DR) males compete more aggressively regardless of the counterpart's type. For females’ conflict behavior, the counterpart's type matters more than the decision-maker's type: Low-DRs are non-significantly more aggressive but every-one is more aggressive against High-DRs. Limitations due to sample size are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/journal-of-e...
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
JEL classification: C - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods > C7 - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory > C72 - Noncooperative Games
C - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods > C9 - Design of Experiments > C91 - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
D - Microeconomics > D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making > D74 - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances
D - Microeconomics > D9 - Intertemporal Choice and Growth > D91 - Intertemporal Consumer Choice; Life Cycle Models and Saving
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2023 23:18
Last Modified: 26 May 2024 07:42
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/118581

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