Journal of Behavioral Decision Making

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Hormonal changes after competition predict sex‐differentiated decision‐making

Abstract Recent neuroendocrinology research has pointed out that testosterone (T) and cortisol (C) changes after social interactions can predict risk‐taking behavior in decision‐making, depending on the sex of participants. However, previous research has focused on the effects of the changes in only one hormone, rather than the interaction between them, even though C can suppress T activity. Our aim was to test, in men and women, the role of T changes moderated by C changes after competition in decision‐making. Thus, 48 males and 46 females completed the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) after a laboratory competition or a noncompetitive task (control task). Saliva samples were collected before and after the competition/control task. IGT was employed to measure risk‐taking decision‐making, considering the degree of uncertainty. Our results showed sex‐differentiated effects of T and C changes on risk‐taking behavior. On the one hand, men from both task groups (Competition/Control) who had higher C and T changes after competition showed more risk‐taking decision‐making (higher IG Risk). On the other hand, women from the competitive task who had high C and T showed conservative decision‐making. Therefore, these results show sex‐differentiated decision‐making profiles, which would help to understand how men and women behave after experiencing a competitive social context.

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