Testosterone Made Him Do It

Three friends sitting on couch talking together
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Ever been out with a group of gay friends trying to decide where to eat, what movie to see or where to go and there's one guy in the group who's being uncooperative just because he can. Well, it's not his fault— it is testosterone's fault! At least according to a research which concluded that hormones can be linked to a bad attitude.

"Testosterone makes us overvalue our own opinions at the expense of cooperation," says ScienceDaily.com, citing research from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London.

Dr Nick Wright and his co-authors tested 17 pairs of female volunteers that had never met prior to the study. On day one they were given testosterone supplements and a placebo the next. The women were then asked to pair up and decide on a targets in an imaging game. The study wanted to measure how cooperative the pairs were under the influence of the hormone. Note: Dr. Wright used females for the study since dosing males with testosterone actually decreases the body's production.

While pairs that came to a consensus did better than individuals overall, the testosterone pumped subjects were all about their own opinions first. Dr. Wright found that testosterone made the participants much less cooperative in the group setting and far more egotistical than before.

"Cooperating with others has obvious advantages for sharing skills and experience, but we know it doesn't always work, particularly if one alpha male or alpha female dominates the decision making. This result helps us understand at a hormonal level the factors that can disrupt our attempts to work together," says Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at The Wellcome Trust Dr John Williams.

While this particular study finds a link between testosterone and egotism, looks into the effects of testosterone have been going on for some time. In the past testosterone studies have been used to try and figure out why gay men like rubbing on other guys.

Early gay cure treatment doctors often injected patients with testosterone since it was thought lack of the hormone was the cause of same-sex attraction. This led to "twin studies" which looked at the effect hormones levels, specifically testosterone, had on twins. It was thought that as the twins battle each other in the womb for mama's nutrients, one could starve the other of testosterone. Low testosterone is associated with less masculism.

To anti-gay, especially ex-gay therapy groups, these findings are gold nuggets of information. Organizations like NARTH often cite twin studies in attempts to prove that men are born gay. However, their theories neglect one key observation: little is known about the effect of masculism on sexuality. It's only assumed that a gay man is less masculine and by default has less testosterone. NARTH has obviously never been to New York Sports Club.

Another interesting study from Oregon State University sought answers to why 8 percent of rams in Australia, so called "shy breeders," wouldn't mate. The controversial study says it found a region of the brain that was twice as large in heterosexual rams than gay ones. The gay rams also had lower levels of an enzyme that triggers testosterone production.

Much like either side of the nature versus nurture debate, the study never got legs. Why? Regions of the brain influence behavior, but behavior can also change the size of a region. So, did the lack of interest in females shrink the ram's thinker or did the smaller region make him turn his nose? The debate will continue to linger on, as it's been for many decades. Until then, the next time you go to order and your friend ends up being the complicated order, show some compassion. His hormones made him do it.