Testosterone does not have an immediate association with occupational health and safety, however it could have an impact on collaboration according to a recent article abstract in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
Researchers at University College London have found that
“Testosterone causally disrupts collaboration during joint decision-making – and does so by increasing individuals’ egocentricity, so that they overweigh their own subjective decisions.”
Those safety professionals who have worked in male-dominated industry sectors may find this to be confirmation of their experience of workplace negotiations but the potential social and organisational impacts of the research deserve attention and discussion. It should be emphasised that the research focused on testosterone and how it affected women, as shown in another article on the same research.
The full article elaborates on the findings, importantly:
“…this effect was selective because while disrupting collective decision-making, testosterone left individual decisions unaffected, which is important in the light of testosterone’s widespread associations with aspects of non-social choice such as attention, working memory, spatial memory and reward processing…”
The broader context of this research was acknowledged in the research findings where several possibilities were mooted:
“A third possibility is that testosterone might render individuals less susceptible to social influence more generally….”
OHS strategies seem to be increasingly incorporating biological and neurological research and there is a great trap that such approaches under-emphasise the social context of work. A multidisciplinary approach on how male workers, particularly, make workplace decisions could prove fascinating.
One researcher, Nicholas Wright is quoted as saying
“Too much testosterone can help blind us to other people’s views… This can be very significant when we are talking about a dominant individual trying to assert his or her opinion in, say, a jury….”
Or an OHS committee.