Brief Communications Arising | Published:

New evidence on testosterone and cooperation

Nature volume 485, pages E4E5 (24 May 2012) | Download Citation


arising from C. Eisenegger, M. Naef, R. Snozzi, M. Heinrichs & E. Fehr Nature 463, 356–359 (2010)10.1038/nature08711; Eisenegger et al. reply

In February 2010, Eisenegger et al. reported increased fair bargaining behaviour after administration of testosterone in an ultimatum game1. However, unfair offers in the ultimatum game typically are rejected; thus, not only the motives for social cooperation but also the threat of financial punishment may have accounted for these effects. Here, using the public goods game (PGG), we unambiguously show increased social cooperation after testosterone administration, but only among subjects with low levels of prenatal testosterone (measured by the right hand’s second-to-fourth-digit ratio (2D:4D)). This finding establishes positive effects of testosterone on social cooperation, with prenatal hormonal priming providing for important individual variability.

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Author information


  1. *Department of Experimental Psychology, Utrecht University, 3584CS Utrecht, Netherlands 

    • Jack van Honk
    • , Estrella R. Montoya
    • , Peter A. Bos
    •  & David Terburg
  2. ‡Department of Psychiatry, University of Cape Town, 7925 Cape Town, South Africa

    • Jack van Honk
    • , Peter A. Bos
    •  & David Terburg
  3. §Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, VU University, 1081 BT Amsterdam, Netherlands

    • Mark van Vugt


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All authors were involved in the design of the research; D.T and E.R.M. analysed data; and all authors were involved in the writing of the paper.

Competing interests

Declared none.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jack van Honk.

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