Testosterone and financial risk preferences

Coren L. Apicella, Anna Dreber, Benjamin Campbell, Peter B. Gray, Moshe Hoffman, Anthony C. Little

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

290 Citations (SciVal)


Many human behaviors, from mating to food acquisition and aggressiveness, entail some degree of risk. Testosterone, a steroid hormone, has been implicated in a wide range of such behaviors in men. However, little is known about the specific relationship between testosterone and risk preferences. In this article, we explore the relationship between prenatal and pubertal testosterone exposure, current testosterone, and financial risk preferences in men. Using a sample of 98 men, we find that risk-taking in an investment game with potential for real monetary payoffs correlates positively with salivary testosterone levels and facial masculinity, with the latter being a proxy of pubertal hormone exposure. 2D:4D, which has been proposed as a proxy for prenatal hormone exposure, did not correlate significantly with risk preferences. Although this is a study of association, the results may shed light on biological determinants of risk preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-390
Number of pages7
JournalEvolution and Human Behavior
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


  • 2D:4D
  • Facial masculinity
  • Risk
  • Risk-taking
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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