Hormones and Social Preferences

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper TI 11-046/3

Posted: 28 Feb 2011

See all articles by Thomas Buser

Thomas Buser

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE)

Date Written: February 24, 2011


We examine whether social preferences are determined by hormones. We do this by investigating whether markers for the strength of prenatal testosterone exposure (finger length ratios) and current exposure to progesterone and oxytocin (the menstrual cycle) are correlated with choices in social preference games. We find that subjects with finger ratios indicating high prenatal testosterone exposure give less in the trust, ultimatum and public good games and return a smaller proportion in the trust game. The choices of female subjects vary over the menstrual cycle according to a pattern consistent with a positive impact of oxytocin on giving in the trust and ultimatum games and a positive impact of progesterone on altruism. We find no impact for subjects taking hormonal contraceptives. We conclude that both prenatal and current exposure to hormones play an important role in shaping social preferences.

Keywords: social preferences, 2D:4D, testosterone, progesterone, oxytocin

JEL Classification: C91, D87

Suggested Citation

Buser, Thomas, Hormones and Social Preferences (February 24, 2011). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper TI 11-046/3, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1768867 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1768867

Thomas Buser (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE) ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, North Holland 1018 WB

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/thomasbuser/

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