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The interaction of testosterone and cortisol is associated with attained status in male executives. (2015)

“Testosterone positively predicts an executive’s number of subordinates (an indicator of attained status), but only if the executive’s cortisol levels are low. Reducing cortisol levels via stress reduction may … enhance leadership potential.

Gary D. Sherman and Jennifer S. Lerner, Harvard Decision Science Laboratory, 
also Robert A. Josephs, Jonathan Renshon and James J. Gross
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Aug 2015

From the abstract:

“Are hormone levels associated with the attainment of social status?

“Although endogenous testosterone predicts status-seeking social behaviors, research suggests that the stress hormone cortisol may inhibit testosterone’s effects. Thus, individuals with both high testosterone and low cortisol may be especially likely to occupy high-status positions in social hierarchies while individuals with high testosterone and high cortisol may not.

“We tested this hypothesis by recruiting a sample of real executives and examining testosterone, cortisol, and a concrete indicator of attained status: the number of subordinates over which the executive has authority.

“Despite the myriad nonhormonal factors that determine organizational promotion, the executives’ endogenous testosterone and cortisol interacted to significantly predict hierarchical position: testosterone positively predicted executives’ number of subordinates, but only among low-cortisol executives.

“The results imply that reducing cortisol levels via stress reduction may be a critical goal not only because doing so will improve health but also because doing so may enhance leadership potential.”

Access the paper here: The interaction of testosterone and cortisol is associated with attained status

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