Testosterone is not associated with traits of optimism or pessimism: Observational evidence from the prospective DETECT study

Hanna Kische, Jürgen Hoyer, Lars Pieper, John Venz, Jens Klotsche, Winfried März, Uwe Koch-Gromus, David Pittrow, Hendrik Lehnert, Sigmund Silber, Günter K. Stalla, Andreas M. Zeiher, Hans Ulrich Wittchen, Robin Haring

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Background Previous experimental research on testosterone (T) and psychological traits is inconclusive. Thus, we performed the first large-scale observational study of the association between T and dispositional optimism / pessimism. Methods We used prospective data from 6,493 primary-care patients (3,840 women) of the DETECT study (Diabetes Cardiovascular Risk-Evaluation: Targets and Essential Data for Commitment of Treatment), including repeated immunoassay-based measurement of serum T and optimism / pessimism assessed by the revised Life-Orientation Test (LOT-R). Cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of baseline T and one-year change in T with optimism and pessimism were investigated using age- and multivariable-adjusted regression models. Results Cross-sectional analyses showed no association of T with optimism or pessimism in both sexes. Longitudinal analyses also showed no association of baseline T with optimism or pessimism at four-year follow-up. Multivariable analyses of total LOT-R score yielded similarly non-significant results (β-coefficient per unit change in T for men: -0.01 (95% CI: -0.24–0.22), women: 0.08 (-0.03–0.20)). Furthermore, change in T was not related to optimism or pessimism at four-year follow-up. Conclusions The present observational study of a large-scale prospective sample showed no association of T with optimism or pessimism. Integrating further experimental and interventional evidence from alternative methodological approaches would strengthen this conclusion and establish stronger evidence about the potential hormonal basis of psychological traits.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0207870
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2018

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