Effects of Affiliation and Power Motivation Arousal on Salivary Progesterone and Testosterone

Horm Behav. 2004 Dec;46(5):592-9. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2004.07.005.


Following up on earlier research suggesting a link between implicit affiliation motivation and progesterone (P) and implicit power motivation and testosterone [T; Schultheiss, O.C., Dargel, A., Rohde, W., 2003. Implicit motives and gonadal steroid hormones: Effects of menstrual cycle phase, oral contraceptive use, and relationship status. Horm. Behav. 43, 293-301.], we tested whether arousal of affiliation motivation increases P levels and whether arousal of power motivation increases T levels. Sixty subjects were randomly assigned to watch 30 min of either Bridges of Madison County (affiliation arousal) or The Godfather II (power arousal), or a documentary about the Amazon (control condition). Levels of P and T were assessed in saliva samples taken before (T1), immediately after (T2), and 45 min after the movie (T3). The efficacy of experimental conditions to differentially arouse motives was verified by assessment of changes in affiliation and power motive imagery expressed in imaginative stories written before and after the movie. After the movie, salivary P levels (T2 and T3) in the affiliation-arousal group were significantly higher than in the control group and marginally higher than in the power-arousal group. Subjects' postmovie T responses (T3) depended on premovie T levels: in men, higher premovie T levels predicted a greater likelihood of postmovie T increases in the Power Arousal condition but not in the other conditions, whereas in women, higher premovie T levels tended to be associated with postmovie T decreases in the Power Arousal condition but not in the other conditions. These findings suggest that aroused affiliation motivation has a specific stimulatory effect on P, whereas aroused power motivation has a specific stimulatory effect on T in men, but not in women, with high baseline T levels.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology
  • Motivation*
  • Power, Psychological*
  • Progesterone / analysis
  • Progesterone / metabolism*
  • Reference Values
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Behavior*
  • Testosterone / analysis
  • Testosterone / metabolism*


  • Testosterone
  • Progesterone