Testosterone could impede collaboration

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.

Kevin Jones

Categories communication, consultation, gender, OHS, research, workplaceTags , ,

2 thoughts on “Testosterone could impede collaboration”

  1. Like all things in life there is always a balance.

    We’ve seen the negative effects on male construction workers and them ignoring risk. I’ve seen young male AND female soldiers suffering an apparent overdose of testosterone, but a positive side could be it endows the meek with intestinal fortitude to have and express an opinion!

    Don’t let ourselves become dull and embittered – look for the positives we can make use of!

  2. Duh — do we really need researchers to teach us the bleeding obvious???

    The whole purpose of testosterone in the male of every species is to put each male in competition against every other male and to exercise dominance over one another and over the females.

    By it’s very purpose it precludes collaboration in favour of competition and dominance.

    Les Henley

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