High-testosterone men reject low ultimatum game offers

Proc Biol Sci. 2007 Sep 22;274(1623):2327-30. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2007.0546.


The ultimatum game is a simple negotiation with the interesting property that people frequently reject offers of 'free' money. These rejections contradict the standard view of economic rationality. This divergence between economic theory and human behaviour is important and has no broadly accepted cause. This study examines the relationship between ultimatum game rejections and testosterone. In a variety of species, testosterone is associated with male seeking dominance. If low ultimatum game offers are interpreted as challenges, then high-testosterone men may be more likely to reject such offers. In this experiment, men who reject low offers ($5 out of $40) have significantly higher testosterone levels than those who accept. In addition, high testosterone levels are associated with higher ultimatum game offers, but this second finding is not statistically significant.

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior*
  • Game Theory*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Testosterone / metabolism*


  • Testosterone