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Does extra testosterone make men dumber? This study says yes

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Testosterone makes men less likely to realise when they’re wrong, according to new US research.

A group of male participants were given either testosterone gel or a placebo and asked to complete a cognitive test as well as some maths question as a control test.

The cognitive test included questions like ‘A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?’

It’s a popular question in behavioural testing because many of us immediately answer $0.10 – which is wrong.

Shoot first and think later

It’s held up as an example of the difference between ‘System 1 thinking’, which is gut-level and intuitive, and ‘System 2 thinking’, which is more considered.

The result? The men with extra testosterone were much more likely to pick the wrong answer.

They also gave incorrect answers faster, and correct answers slower than the placebo group – showing they were doing a lot less of that careful thinking.

“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,” study leader Prof Colin Camerer says.

So when your partner insists that he’s right all the time? Blame the testosterone.

And the correct answer? The ball costs $0.05 so the bat costs $1.05.

Lauren Broomham

Lauren is a journalist for villages.com.au, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.


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