Buff don’t bluff

You probably already know this but high testosterone once had a pretty bad rep. Not just health wise – blamed for cardiovascular problems it’s now thought to help – but also in terms of negative personality traits.

High T’s trademark intensity was often mistakenly used as shorthand for aggression. Some claim the confidence it installs translates to arrogance. While the famously strong libido it provides would frequently see us all cast as sex-mad love rats.

But much like science has slowly come round to the physical health benefits of good levels, psychologists are now recognizing possible upsides for our character.

It’s understood now that natural testosterone alone doesn’t cause aggression, the only effect of a confidence boost is improved mental health. Plus those with high T, recent research finds, can make the most attentive partners.

Obviously, knowing the advantages of maximizing our inbuilt male hormone, we try to bring you it’s many pluses on this site. But sometimes we wonder if it’s so positive that some readers wonder if we’re massaging the truth a bit.

Well, rest assured, we’re not in the business of telling lies. Literally. In fact, if anything we’re in the business of promoting natural liquid honesty.

That’s because a study has found that those with higher testosterone are more likely to tell the truth.

Dicing with dishonesty

To determine whether hormone levels put the T in truth, a team from Bonn University tried an experiment.

91 healthy males took part and while 46 were given testosterone gel, the other 45 got a placebo. After checking samples from the subjects to ensure the gel made the right changes, the next stage was set up. Neither the men nor the scientists knew who was in which group going in.

Participants played a simple game of dice, alone, in private booths, then enter their results in a computer. The higher these scores were the more money that person earned.

We’re not talking huge, life-changing sums of money here, just a few Euros, still, the men could effectively write themselves a blank cheque. Nobody except the individuals at the time knew whose scores were honest. That was only known when the results were in.

Lead author, neuroscientist Dr Matthias Wibral, points out:

“Statistically, the probability for all numbers on the dice to occur is identical, so, if there are outliers in the higher numbers, this is a clear indication that subjects have been cheating.”

When the groups were finally known and it was time to compare results, the team report those with higher T clearly lied less frequently.

Economist Prof Armin Falk, who is one of the CENS co-directors with Prof Weber says of the findings:

“This result clearly contradicts the one-dimensional approach that testosterone results in anti-social behaviour.”

The theory is that the confidence and pride high T provides means we’re less likely to sell-out our principles. Certainly not for a few Euros more, as Clint Eastwood on his holidays might say.

It shows that testosterone promotes positive self-image as well as projecting well to others.

The truth of it all

Any time we write an article like this, about claims that testosterone affects our character, we finish it the same way. It’s often been negative scare stories, so take empathy for example the suggestion that more T means less empathy.

Just because research shows that’s the case in some guys, doesn’t make it a hard and fast rule for all of us. Nor does it mean naturally raising our testosterone will morph us into some uncaring egomaniac. That’s just not going to happen.

But the same goes for this newly discovered positive link between male hormone and honesty. Strong T doesn’t guarantee that everyone who’s lucky enough to have it is a saint who never lies.

Heck, Arnie’s secret second family of Schwarzeneggers proved that much. Likewise, taking sensible steps to lift our natural testosterone won’t leave us stuck like Jim Carey’s character in ‘Liar, Liar’ when you succeed.

As Wirbil himself says:

“The disadvantage of many studies is, however, that they only correlate their subjects’ testosterone level with their behavior. For testosterone does not only influence behavior; behavior, in turn, also influences hormone levels.”

The truth is there are lots of factors which go into making us the kind of people we are. It’s not any one thing alone. Many of these variables are actually pretty much locked in early, long before our adult hormones even really come into play.

Still, if and when testosterone does play a role, it’s nice to know it has some real positives to bring to the party.

Not just in terms of physical changes and health, personality too. Hopefully this means the public idea of high T will be less narcissistic, irritable jock; more confident and honest catch.

Testosterone helps us handle most things. The truth included.

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