Professor in Evolutionary Psychology, Work and Organizational Psychology


Leadership and status

Basal testosterone, leadership and dominance: a field study and meta-analysis

Van der Meij, L., Schaveling, J., & Van Vugt, M. (2016). Basal testosterone, leadership and dominance: a field study and meta-analysis. Psychoneurendocrinology, 72, 72-79


This article examines the role of basal testosterone as a potential biological marker of leadership andhierarchy in the workplace. First, we report the result of a study with a sample of male employeesfrom different corporate organizations in the Netherlands (n = 125). Results showed that employees withhigher basal testosterone levels reported a more authoritarian leadership style, but this relationshipwas absent among those who currently held a real management position (i.e., they had at least onesubordinate). Furthermore, basal testosterone levels were not different between managers and non-managers, and testosterone was not associated with various indicators of status and hierarchy suchas number of subordinates, income, and position in the organizational hierarchy. In our meta-analysis(second study), we showed that basal testosterone levels were not associated with leadership in men norin women (9 studies, n = 1103). Taken together, our findings show that basal testosterone is not associatedwith having a leadership position in the corporate world or related to leadership styles in leaders. Wesuggest that basal testosterone could play a role in acquiring leadership positions through dominant andauthoritarian behavior.

Copyright © 2012– Mark van Vugt