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, 62, 319-26

Digit Ratio (2D:4D) and Psychopathic Traits Moderate the Effect of Exogenous Testosterone on Socio-Cognitive Processes in Men

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Digit Ratio (2D:4D) and Psychopathic Traits Moderate the Effect of Exogenous Testosterone on Socio-Cognitive Processes in Men

Justin M Carré et al. Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Abstract

Recent evidence suggests that testosterone is negatively correlated with empathic processes in both men and women. Also, administration of testosterone to young women impairs socio-cognitive performance as assessed using the "Reading the Mind in the Eyes Task", especially among those exposed to elevated testosterone concentrations prenatally. However, the extent to which testosterone plays a similar causal role in socio-cognitive abilities in men is currently unknown. Here, using a crossover, double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subject design, we investigated the extent to which a single administration of testosterone to healthy young men (N=30) would impair socio-cognitive abilities assessed using the "Reading the Mind in the Eyes Task" (RMET). Also, we investigated whether individual differences in 2D:4D ratio and psychopathic traits would moderate the effect of testosterone on task performance. Results indicated that testosterone administration on its own did not impair RMET performance. However, variability in both 2D:4D ratio and psychopathic traits moderated the effect of testosterone on task performance. Specifically, testosterone impaired RMET performance among individuals with relatively low (i.e., masculinized) 2D:4D ratio and among individuals scoring relatively low on the interpersonal/affective facet (i.e., Factor 1) of psychopathy. Our findings highlight the importance of considering theoretically- and empirically-based individual difference factors when attempting to characterize the neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying socio-cognitive processes.

Keywords: 2D:4D ratio; Empathic abilities; Psychopathic traits; Testosterone.

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