#55 – Getting the T(estosterone)

Testosterone is having a moment these days. T-boosting has grown into a $2.5 billion industry, with guys of all ages trying to up their T levels in hopes of increasing everything from libido to mood to energy. But what does testosterone do how about our cognitive processes?

Could testosterone increase how quickly and automatically we make decisions about sexual situations, and could that lack of deliberation have a dark side that contributes to sexual assault and harassment?

These are some of the questions that our guest, Dr. Gideon Nave from the U Penn Business School, attempted to answer for us in episode #55, based on several of his studies on how testosterone affects men’s reasoning and decision making processes in areas relevant to the last of the 5 Fs of basic, instinctive behaviors: fight, flight, freeze, feed, and, um, fornicate ūüėČ

At the end of the episode we also¬†briefly touch on yet another neurotransmitter that has received a lot of media attention over the past decade: oxytocin. Hailed as the “love hormone,” the “cuddle hormone,” or “liquid trust,” oxytocin is supposed to increase intimacy and trust, not just between romantic or sexual partners, but also among complete strangers. This story about oxytocin sounds awesome and we’d all love to believe in it, but does it stand up to scientific scrutiny? Dr. Nave’s recent review of the research suggests we should be a bit more skeptical.

If you’d like to read the studies discussed in this episode, here they are: on T and cognitive reflection, on T and status goods, and on oxytocin & trust.

About our Guest

Gideon Nave is a marketing assistant professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He got his PhD in Computation and Neural Systems at Caltech, how the mind works. His research uses a medley of quantitative and experimental methods from the fields of Computational Neuroscience, Cognitive Psychology, Game Theory and Machine Learning for reverse-engineering the decision-making process in humans.

You can visit his website here.

You’ve Had the Same Number of “Romantic Partners” as Your Mom

A 2018 study out of Ohio State University looked at more than 7,000 mothers and their children, and they found an unexpected connection: ¬†The number of, quote, “romantic partners” you’ve had is probably right around the same number your mom had. ¬†And that’s true even if you never witnessed her in most of those relationships.

The researchers say it’s probably because our mothers pass on relationship skills to us, which influences how we interact with everyone . . . including people in our dating life.

It could be genes, too, but then you’d expect dad’s romantic history to matter as well. Yet, oddly enough, the researchers found no connection between a father’s number of romantic partners and his kids’ number.

You can read more about the study here.

Monogamy: Is It for Everyone?

Are you in NYC on Tuesday, Feb 12? Interested in learning more about the pros and cons of monogamy vs nonmonogamy, and which one might be right for you? Come grab some drinks and see Dr. Zhana discuss this (and more) for her first live Think & Drink NYC event of the year, at Bar Subject on the Lower East Side. More info and tickets here.

Before Next Time…

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