Exogenous testosterone increases men's perceptions of their own physical dominance

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2016 Feb:64:136-42. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2015.11.016. Epub 2015 Nov 24.


Men's testosterone is associated with several constructs that are linked to dominance rank, such as risk-taking, mating success, and aggression. However, no study has directly tested the relationship between men's self-perceived dominance and testosterone using an experimental design. We employed a within-subjects, double-blind, placebo-controlled paradigm to assess whether testosterone influences men's self-perceived dominance. Exogenous testosterone or a placebo was administered to healthy adult men and self-perceptions of physical dominance were subsequently assessed by having participants select what they believed to be their true face from an array of images digitally manipulated in masculinity. Men picked a more masculine version of their own face after testosterone versus placebo--an effect that was particularly pronounced among men with relatively low baseline testosterone. These findings indicate that a single administration of testosterone can rapidly modulate men's perceptions of their own physical dominance, which may explain links between testosterone and dominance-related behaviors.

Keywords: Dominance; Face perception; Individual differences; Neuroendocrinology; Social perception; Testosterone.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Masculinity*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Dominance*
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Testosterone / pharmacology*
  • Young Adult


  • Testosterone