AC Hahn, C Fisher, LM DeBruine & BC Jones (2014). Women’s testosterone upregulates the reward value of infant cuteness. Human Behavior and Evolution Society in Natal, Brazil. July 2014.

Recent work suggests that administering testosterone to women increases the reward value of infant cues. It has been speculated that testosterone may influence women’s responses to infant cues via conversion to estradiol, as has previously been observed in some other species. To explore how testosterone influences women’s responses to infant cues, we investigated the relationships between a behavioral measure of the reward value of baby schema (i.e., infant facial cues that motivate maternal behavior) and within-woman changes in endogenous testosterone, estradiol, progesterone, and cortisol. Analyses of these data showed that baby schema was more rewarding when women’s salivary testosterone levels were high and that this within-woman effect of testosterone was independent of the possible effects of estradiol, progesterone, or cortisol. Our data present new evidence implicating testosterone in women’s responses to infants and suggest that the effects of testosterone on these responses are not mediated by estradiol, progesterone, or cortisol.

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