A longitudinal analysis of women's salivary testosterone and intrasexual competitiveness

Amanda C. Hahn, Claire I. Fisher, Kelly D. Cobey, Lisa M. DeBruine, Benedict C. Jones

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Research on within-subject changes in women's intrasexual competitiveness has generally focused on possible relationships between women's intrasexual competitiveness and estimates of their fertility. While this approach is useful for testing hypotheses about the adaptive function of changes in women's intrasexual competitiveness, it offers little insight into the proximate mechanisms through which such changes might occur. To investigate this issue, we carried out a longitudinal study of the hormonal correlates of changes in intrasexual competitiveness in a large sample of heterosexual women (N=136). Each woman provided saliva samples and completed an intrasexual competitiveness questionnaire in five weekly test sessions. Multilevel modeling of these data revealed a significant, positive within-subject effect of testosterone on intrasexual competitiveness, indicating that women reported greater intrasexual competitiveness when testosterone was high. By contrast, there were no significant effects of estradiol, progesterone, estradiol-to-progesterone ratio, or cortisol and no significant effects of any hormones on reported relationship jealousy. This is the first study to demonstrate correlated changes in measured testosterone levels and women's reported intrasexual competitiveness, implicating testosterone in the regulation of women's intrasexual competitiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-122
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • intrasexual competition
  • jealousy
  • relationships
  • sex hormones
  • stress
  • within-sex competition

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