Exogenous testosterone decreases men’s sensitivity to vocal cues of male dominance

Chengyang Han, Christopher D. Watkins, Yu Nan, Jianxin Ou, Xue Lei, Xiangqian Li, Yin Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)
    91 Downloads (Pure)


    Assessing dominance is important for effective social interactions, and prior research suggests that testosterone is associated with men's dominance perceptions. The present study tested for a causal effect of exogenous testosterone on men's sensitivity to vocal cues of other men's dominance, an important parameter in male-male competition across species. One hundred and thirty-nine Chinese men received a single dose (150 mg) of testosterone or placebo gel in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, between-participant design. Participants reported their own dominance and judged other men's dominance from voices. Men's dominance sensitivity was significantly weaker in the testosterone group compared to those in the placebo group. Moreover, men's dominance sensitivity was negatively associated with their self-reported dominance in our Chinese sample, consistent with findings from Western populations. These results indicate that exogenous testosterone has a causal effect in decreasing men's dominance sensitivity, consistent with the Challenge Hypothesis, suggesting that the fluctuation of testosterone concentration mediates individuals' behaviors. Additionally, the present study could motivate further work on vocal assessment in the context of competition in humans and other species.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number104871
    Number of pages6
    JournalHormones and Behavior
    Early online date16 Oct 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


    • Testosterone
    • Dominance
    • Voice
    • Sexual dimorphism
    • Intrasexual competition


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