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Extra Testosterone Reduces Your Empathy, Researchers Find

An explanation for why the popo do the fucked up things they do:

Extra Testosterone Reduces Your Empathy, Researchers Find

ScienceDaily (Feb. 10, 2011) A new study from Utrecht and Cambridge Universities has for the first time found that an administration of testosterone under the tongue in volunteers negatively affects a person's ability to 'mind read', an indication of empathy. The findings are published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


In addition, the effects of testosterone administration are predicted by a fetal marker of prenatal testosterone, the 2D:4D ratio. The study has important implications for the androgen theory of autism (testosterone is an androgen) and confirms earlier rodent research that shows that testosterone in early brain development organizes the activation of the very hormone in later life.

Professor Jack van Honk at the University of Utrecht and Professor Simon Baron-Cohen at the University of Cambridge designed the study that was conducted in Utrecht. They used the 'Reading the Mind in the Eyes' task as the test of mind reading, which tests how well someone can infer what a person is thinking or feeling from photographs of facial expressions from around the eyes.

Mind reading is one aspect of empathy, a skill that shows significant sex differences in favour of females. They tested 16 young women from the general population, since women on average have lower levels of testosterone than men. The decision to test just females was to maximize the possibility of seeing a reduction in their levels of empathy.

The researchers not only found that administration of testosterone leads to a significant reduction in mind reading, but that this effect is powerfully predicted by the 2D:4D digit ratio, a marker of prenatal testosterone. Those people with the most masculinized 2D:4D ratios showed the most pronounced reduction in the ability to mind read.

Jack van Honk said: "We are excited by this finding because it suggests testosterone levels prenatally prime later testosterone effects on the mind."

Simon Baron-Cohen commented: "This study contributes to our knowledge of how small hormonal differences can have far-reaching effects on empathy."

The new study has several important implications. First, that current levels of testosterone directly affect the ability to read someone else's mind. This may help explain why on average women perform better on such tests than men, since men on average produce more testosterone than women.

Second, that the digit ratio (2D:4D), a marker of fetal testosterone, predicts the extent to which later testosterone has this effect. This suggests testosterone levels in the womb have an 'organizing' or long-range effect on later brain function. Finally, given that people with autism have difficulties in mind reading, and that autism affects males more often than females, the study provides further support for the androgen theory of autism.

African Men have higher testosterone levels 11.Feb.2011 17:52


It is a fact that black men produce more testosterone. Look it up - it is a fact.

Does this mean that black men have less empathy than other people? I think not.

Fact?! 11.Feb.2011 22:53

fact checker

Is that a fact? Sorta sounds like horse shit to me. You cops like to work out right? That increases testosterone. Look, I can cite my sources:
See! Impressive. Now go crawl back in your hole asshole.

Here is a source 12.Feb.2011 08:44


Testosterone has been hypothesized to play a role in the etiology of prostate cancer, because testosterone and its metabolite, dihydrotestosterone, are the principal trophic hormones that regulate growth and function of epithelial prostate tissue. This report gives the results of assays of circulating steroid hormone levels in white and black college students in Los Angeles, CA. Mean testosterone levels in blacks were 19% higher than in whites, and free testosterone levels were 21% higher. Both these differences were statistically significant. Adjustment by analysis of covariance for time of sampling, age, weight, alcohol use, cigarette smoking, and use of prescription drugs somewhat reduced the differences. After these adjustments were made, blacks had a 15% higher testosterone level and a 13% higher free testosterone level. A 15% difference in circulating testosterone levels could readily explain a twofold difference in prostate cancer risk. Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3455741

Some thoughts 12.Feb.2011 10:56


The body is still a mystery. We can discover many *facts* but not know what they mean (interpretation). More specifically, what is "extra" testosterone? If you're using steroids, that's "extra." But that doesn't mean that people who naturally have more testosterone are less empathetic. The test was done on women and may not even pertain to mean at all. It's certainly interesting, and thought-provoking, but no, it doesn't mean that if black men have more testosterone, they are therefore less empathetic. A biological organism is complex and resists such linear thinking.

Not to mention the fact that reading facial expressions may not be a direct indication of how much empathy a person has.

Don't point. It looks like a penis. 12.Feb.2011 15:08


Jack van Honk is irony deficient. I'm hoping that Simon Baron-Cohen is related to Sasha Baron-Cohen.

Perfectly False 12.Feb.2011 22:57


Simon Baron-Cohen has been known to perform experiments on small study groups, hardly providing enough results to apply on all of humanity. It's just more internalized sexism wearing a neurobiology facade.

Sure attack this study... 13.Feb.2011 14:26


There are however countless studies which link testorone and aggression.
Aggression isn't high up there in the empathy department.

It's not to say men can't feel but men have been called insensitive more often than not and people say a sensitive guy is a lie.