Therese Huston of the New York Times writes that “history has long labeled women as unreliable and hysterical because of their hormones.” Interestingly, new research shows that men’s hormones fluctuate, too, both naturally and artificially, with possibly dire consequences for the rest of us. Prescriptions for testosterone supplements, often for a condition called “low-T,” are heavily advertised on television and social media and have increased from 1.3 million to 2.3 million in just four years. As Huston notes, the availability and popularity of these supplements makes new research on testosterone possible. She reports the following findings:
- When men take testosterone, they make more impulsive—and often faulty—decisions.
- High testosterone can make it harder to see flaws in one’s reasoning.
- Testosterone may lower activity in the brain’s orbitofrontal cortex, which affects self-evaluation, decision making, and impulse control, and cause overconfidence in one’s reasoning ability.
- Fluctuations in testosterone shape one’s willingness to collaborate.
- Better and deeper critical thinking. The presence of cognitive friction might mean that people work harder to examine their own assumptions and deepen their reflections in the presence of conflicting opinions and information.
- More engagement with different perspectives. Different perspectives bring new ideas, and working harder to understand a different perspective can bring about a change in position.
- Better error detection. Deeper critical thought and engagement provide more opportunity for errors to be revealed.
- Less groupthink. Individuals are more likely to form their own opinions in diverse teams than to just follow along with those like them.