Testosterone exposure, dopaminergic reward, and sensation-seeking in young men

Benjamin C. Campbell, Anna Dreber, Coren L. Apicella, Dan T A Eisenberg, Peter B. Gray, Anthony C. Little, Justin R. Garcia, Richard S. Zamore, J. Koji Lum

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60 Citations (Scopus)


To test the relationship between androgen exposure, dopaminergic reward and sensation-seeking, we compared variation in salivary testosterone (T), 2D:4D digit ratio, facial masculinity, Zuckerman's sensation-seeking scale (SSS) and the D4 dopamine receptor (DRD4) genes from 98 young men, between the ages of 18 and 23 years. In univariate analyses, both salivary T and facial masculinity were significantly correlated with the SSS boredom susceptibility subscale, while the presence of the 7-repeat allele (7R+) in the dopamine receptor D4 gene was associated with the SSS thrill and adventure-seeking and overall sensation-seeking. Neither left nor right 2D:4D digit ratio was associated with any sensation-seeking scale. In multivariate models, salivary T and facial masculinity were significant predictors of SSS boredom susceptibility, while 7R+ was a significant predictor of SSS thrill and adventure-seeking. For overall SSS, both 7R+ and salivary T were significant predictors. There was no significant interaction of 7R+ and androgen exposure for SSS or any of the SSS subscales. These results add to earlier reports of an association between T and sensation-seeking. In addition, our results also indicate that genetic variation in DRD4 is independently associated with SSS sensation-seeking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-456
Number of pages6
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2010


  • Dopaminergic reward system
  • DRD4
  • Sensation-seeking
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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  • Cite this

    Campbell, B. C., Dreber, A., Apicella, C. L., Eisenberg, D. T. A., Gray, P. B., Little, A. C., Garcia, J. R., Zamore, R. S., & Lum, J. K. (2010). Testosterone exposure, dopaminergic reward, and sensation-seeking in young men. Physiology and Behavior, 99(4), 451-456. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2009.12.011