Testosterone is positively associated with risk taking in the Iowa Gambling Task

Horm Behav. 2011 Feb;59(2):252-6. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2010.12.003. Epub 2010 Dec 15.


The association between testosterone and economic risk is not well-understood and is understudied. The present study aimed to further characterize what if any relationship testosterone has with risky economic decisions. To do so, 154 participants (78 men) completed the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) (Bechara et al., 1994) and also provided saliva samples, which were assayed for endogenous testosterone levels using radioimmunoassay. High-levels of endogenous testosterone were associated with choosing less frequently from advantageous IGT decks of cards, indicating greater risk taking. The data showed that the effects of testosterone on IGT performance were similar for men and women. High-testosterone women and high-testosterone men made riskier choices than their low-testosterone counterparts of the same sex, and this effect was pronounced in women. Thus, high levels of testosterone are associated with willingness to incur greater risk in both sexes.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior / physiology
  • Decision Making / physiology
  • Female
  • Gambling / metabolism*
  • Gambling / physiopathology
  • Gambling / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Reward
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Testosterone / analysis*
  • Testosterone / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Testosterone