Testosterone responses to competition in men are related to facial masculinity
Nicholas Pound et al.; 2009
Relationships between androgens and the size of sexually dimorphic male traits have been demonstrated in several non-human species. It is often assumed that a similar relationship exists for human male faces, but clear evidence of an association between circulating testosterone levels and the size of masculine facial traits in adulthood is absent. Here we demonstrate that, after experimentally determined success in a competitive task, men with more a masculine facial structure show higher levels of circulating testosterone than men with less masculine faces. In participants randomly allocated to a ‘winning’ condition, testosterone was elevated relative to pre-task levels at 5 and 20 min post-task. In a control group of participants allocated to a ‘losing’ condition there were no significant differences between pre- and post-task testosterone. An index of facial masculinity based on the measurement of sexually dimorphic facial traits was not associated with pre-task (baseline) testosterone levels, but was associated with testosterone levels 5 and 20 min after success in the competitive task. These findings indicate that a man's facial structure may afford important information about the functioning of his endocrine system.