Collective Hormonal Profiles Predict Group Performance
Prior research has shown that an individual’s hormonal profile can influence the individual’s social standing within a group. We introduce a different construct—a collective hormonal profile— which describes a group’s hormonal make-up. We test whether a group’s collective hormonal profile is related to its performance. Analysis of 370 individuals randomly assigned to work in 74 groups of three to six individuals revealed that group-level concentrations of testosterone and cortisol interact to predict a group’s standing across groups. Groups with a collective hormonal profile characterized by high testosterone and low cortisol exhibited the highest performance. These collective hormonal level results remained reliable when controlling for personality traits and group-level variability in hormones. These findings support the hypothesis that groups with a biological propensity toward status pursuit (high testosterone) coupled with reduced stress-axis activity (low cortisol) engage in profit-maximizing decision-making. The current work extends the dual-hormone hypothesis to the collective level and provides a neurobiological perspective on the factors that determine who rises to the top across, not just within, social hierarchies. Modupe Akinola is an Associate Professor of Management at Columbia Business School and Director of the Bernstein Center for Leadership and Ethics. Her research examines how the stressful demands of organizational life affect work outcomes using a multi-method approach that includes behavioral observation, implicit and reaction time measures, and physiological responses. Additionally, she explores the strategies organizations employ to increase the diversity of their talent pool, and the biases that hinder the recruitment and retention of women and minorities. Professor Akinola has written on these topics in numerous academic journals and her research has been covered in various media outlets. Prior to pursuing an academic career, Professor Akinola worked in professional services at Bain & Company and Merrill Lynch. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in Psychology from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior. She also holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Event Type: 
Berkeley Way West
Wednesday, February 9, 2022
Event Sponsor: 
Personality and Social Research, Institute of
Event Speakers: 
Modupe Akinola