Don’t mess with a bald guy!

Yesterday’s post looked at the ultimatum game, where one player has some money and can offer some of that money to another player. If the other player rejects the offer then both players get nothing.

Research by Terence C Burnham has shown a statistically significant link between high levels of testosterone and the rejection of low offers in ultimatum games.

In the experiment men were offered $5 from a total of $40. The average testosterone level of those that accepted the offer was 251 pmol l-1 (what is pmol l-1 ? See the end of the post for an explanation). This compares to an average of 383 pmol l-1 in the group that rejected the offer.

Of the seven men with the highest testosterone levels, five rejected the low offer. Of the 19 men with the lowest testosterone, only one rejected the offer.

High levels of testosterone are linked to aggression and it is likely that the low offer is seen as a challenge to the aggressive male who refuses the offer.

Testosterone is also linked to baldness. Baldness is caused when hair follicles become exposed to too much dihydrotestosterone, which is produced from testosterone. So high levels of testosterone tend to lead to baldness.

Connecting these two bits of information together, we can leap to the conclusion that bald men are more likely take offense if you make them a low offer!

Are the bald men you know more aggressive negotiators?

Are you bald but happy to accept any offer in an ultimatum game?

Send this on to your bald friends and see what they think!

Today’s takeaway: Biological factors influence economic decisions. People aren’t rational, they’re hormonal!

What is pmol l-1?

A pmol is a picomole which is a trillionth of a mole. A mole is about 6×1023 molecules of testosterone (that’s 6 with 23 zeros after it), not a small furry animal that lives underground! That makes a picomole of testosterone about 600,000,000,000, or 600 billion molecules of testosterone.

The l-1 bit means ‘per liter’.

So 251 pmol l-1 means there were about 150,600,000,000,000 molecules of testosterone in one liter of the saliva that was tested. Just in case you are worried, they didn’t actually take a whole liter of saliva to test, but the number is worked out per liter.

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