Power, testosterone, and risk-taking



Power has been found to increase risk-taking (Anderson & Galinsky, 2006) but this effect appears to be moderated by individual differences in power motivation (Maner, Gailliot, Butz, & Peruche, 2007). Among individuals high in power motivation, the experience of power leads to more conservative decisions. As testosterone is associated with the pursuit of power and status (Dabbs & Dabbs, 2000), we reasoned that high-testosterone individuals primed with power might be similarly risk-avoidant. Conversely, we hypothesized that high-testosterone individuals primed with low power, would see risk-taking as a vehicle for pursuing potential gains to their status and resources. We report findings from two experiments that are consistent with these predictions. In Experiment 1, higher testosterone males (as indicated by second–fourth digit ratio) showed greater risk-taking when primed with low power. Experiment 2 replicated this effect and also showed that when primed with high power, higher testosterone males took fewer risks. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.