The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 19 No. 5 • June 2016


SEX HORMONES ON THE TRADING FLOOR

Here we look at a study (Coates, 2008) of the effects of testosterone on 17 male traders who were actively engaged at buying such things as currency, commodities, bonds, and stocks, etc. (Coates, 2008) The study also examined the effects of the stress hormone cortisol, which was found to be increased by risk, e.g., cortisol levels rose on days when traders were “stressed by an above-average loss.”

A major find of the study was that “a trader’s morning testosterone level predicts his day’s profitability.” (Coates, 2008)

The paper explains the significance of testosterone as a marker of the traders’ risk preference and the reward they receive in their trading activities this way, “[i]t has also been found that testosterone and its metabolite, 3alpha-androstanediol, have rewarding and addictive properties, largely because they increase dopamine release in the shell of the nucleus accumbens, a brain region found to be stimulated in anticipation of irrational risk seeking.” They explain this by noting that a previous success in trading can lead to “androgen priming” (sometimes called the “winner effect”) and this can increase risky choices in the next round of trading. (Coates, 2008) These risky choices may eventually lead to irrational trading behavior with destructive results. “… testosterone has [ ] been found to lead to impulsivity and sensation seeking, to harmful risk taking and, among users of anabolic steroids, to euphoria and mania.” It may not have escaped your notice that these traits are similar to those seen in carriers of the DRD2 Taq1A gene.

References

  • Coates and Herbert. Endogenous steroids and financial risk taking on a London trading floor. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 105(16):6167-72 (2008).

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