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The Role of Testosterone and Intrasexual Competition in Unethical Behavior


In the pursuit of understanding ethical behavior, researchers have suggested using neuroscientific methods to further advance theories. With this in mind, our study examines the relationship between testosterone and unethical behavior, specifically in response to intrasexual competition. We hypothesize that high-testosterone individuals are more likely to exhibit unethical behavior in highly competitive situations as a means of enhancing status.


Using an experiment to measure baseline testosterone and assign participants to either an intrasexually competitive or control condition, we find that testosterone is positively associated with unethical behavioral intentions in men, but not in women. Our textual analysis further reveals that testosterone is also linked to the usage of anger-related words in response to intrasexual competition among men, and anger is associated with promoting unethical behavior. Overall, our findings suggest that competition and high levels of testosterone are factors in promoting unethical behavior in men, with anger playing a role in motivating them. This research highlights the need for further exploration into the neuroscientific underpinnings of ethical behavior.


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