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Whereas Drive,bill prevent inside itself strategy award OK So this is SPAM but it is weirdly poetic.

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David Bourbon

Jared, in the first case you get the US House of Representatives. In the second case you get the Marines. Now decide which group accomplishes more.

T Sarkka

Testosterone levels vary through time and between people. I just saw a documentary of testosterone levels and the effects on behavior of people and of animals. I think the study was wrong when it measured the levels only twice (?). The levels must be dependent on time and on the situation/status in the social group.The alpha male/female tends to have higher levels than the subordinates. There is always a competition going on, who is going to lead.
However, maybe the study shows that if you start with a group all with high testosterone levels, you are heading for trouble: the group won't work until the dust settles down.
Testosterone increases your self confidence, but maybe not on others. The mortality of teenage boys increases with the level of testosterone,high levels make us to do some stupid things, take unnecessary risks etc.

Bob sutton


That is the scary part....


Bill Bennett

Let's assume the research is sound.

Doesn't this imply there needs to be higher proportion of high testosterone positions for an organisation to function efficiently?

Bob Sutton

Jared and John,

You guys are likely both right in that the design is oversimplified and that testosterone are variable. In the light of those observations, it is interesting to ask why OBHDP -- which has exacting peer review standards -- published the paper. Certainly, it is interesting, and that counts. But the oversimplification probably was not seen as a fatal flaw because, to tease-out effects in research, this is almost always necessary. Indeed, a potential problem with this study is that it is not a controlled experiment -- the effects reflect the naturally occurring status order -- so the effects of status and testosterone were not controlled

And as for the variability, the authors do acknowledge it, and also -- toward the end of the article -- briefly imply the possibility that the effects occurred because of the impact of group performance on testosterone levels. Indeed, a look at the table in the article indicates that the correlation between testosterone (measured in week 6) and collective efficacy (measured in week 12)is a whopping .65. I frankly can't tell if that was calculated at the group (n=92) or individual level (n=592), but it does raise an alternative argument: that the relationship is muddied by the effects of performance on testosterone levels (as group performance may have been pretty clear by week 6) -- assuming collective efficacy is a reasonable proxy for performance.

But also note this correlation is different than the match/mismatch effect, and it is unclear to me how it may have muddied it, or not. I also wonder if -- given the strength of the effects the authors found -- that if variability John mentioned can be turned on its head and viewed as strength to support the argument that DESPITE the unreliability of the measure, they still got significant effects (as unreliability usually dampens correlations) -- although that strikes me as stretching things too far.

I guess my overall reaction is that the authors were careful not to make excessive claims, there is at least a plausible argument to support their hypotheses about mismatch, and I am glad this study was published so it will motivate future researchers to test the hypothesis in more rigorous studies. But other reviewers may find the flaws you guys identified -- and acknowledged by the authors to be "fatal." The decisions made about whether or not to publish academic articles are often subjective in the end.

That said, thanks for the comments, I think you two guys make good points.

John Jenkins

It's not just an over-simplification, it's a bad design. Testosterone levels are variable, so testing each person once in 12 weeks and tying your conclusions to that single test is useless.


Seems like an over simplification. What happens when you have relatively low testosterone people managing people of similar or slightly lower testosterone people?

Likewise what would happen if the high testosterone people managed other high testosterone people.

I would imagine it can be very difficult to manage high testosterone people, but what if a group had none. How effective is a group comprised entirely of relatively low-testosterone people?

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