Hahn AC (2015). Hormone-mediated responses to faces. City University of New York in Brooklyn..

Faces contain important social information, including information about a person’s sex, age, and attractiveness. Hormonal regulation of women’s responses to facial cues has been the focus of a considerable amount of research in the last twenty years. However, this work has typically only studied possible links between estimates of women’s fertility and their responses to facial cues and has rarely measured actual hormone levels. Consequently, it has done little to advance our understanding of how changes in women’s hormone levels regulate responses to facial cues and, ultimately, shape social behavior. Here we used a standard lever-press task to demonstrate that the reward value of both adult facial attractiveness and infant facial cuteness tracks changes in women’s salivary testosterone, but not other hormones. These results complement other recent work implicating testosterone in women’s sensitivity to financial rewards. They also identify testosterone-mediated changes in reward sensitivity as a potential mechanism through which hormones influence women’s social behavior.

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