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Body Movement, Testosterone, and Sensation Seeking in Young Males

Karl Grammer, Bernhard Fink, Michaela Atzmüller, Marco Costa ,
Elisabeth Oberzaucher



According to evolutionary theory male survival is compromised by the requirements for success in competition for females. Male competitiveness has been attributed to different selective pressures, leading to distinct male and female reproductive strategies. In this view, males are supposed to be the more risk-taking sex. The question however is how sensation seeking may be communicated.

We assume that risk taking and sensation seeking are communicated by a general change in the quality of body movements. We hypothesized that this may be due to the fact that the underlying physiology of risk seeking changes body movements, thus providing an honest signal for assessment of males by females (possible mates) and males (possible competitors).

We thus investigated sensation-seeking in relation to body movement, alcohol consumption, smoking habits, socioeconomic status, testosterone level, and mating behavior. Young males were asked to fill in Zuckerman’s Sensation Seeking Scale Form V (SSS V) and a questionnaire covering socio-biographical information. Body movements were videotaped while performing a pantomime.

The results show that singles scored lower on the Experience Seeking Subscale than participants with a partner. A high monthly income (status) was also related to higher scores on the SSS V, and to more expressive and emphatic body movements. Also testosterone level had an effect on expressiveness in body movement whereas no relation was found between testosterone levels and SSS V scores.

A neural network was successfully trained to discriminate between participants that scored high and such who scored low in the SSS V questionnaire only from body movements. We conclude that body motion actually could be the carrier of information about a males risk seeking behavior.

Disinhibition is highest for young males who are looking for a partner shorterm or longterm in the discoteque. Those who are not looking for a partner or who are already paired show lower disinhibition (below).


Disinhibition is related to testosterone, but only in high status males. Higher testosterone levels are linked to higher degrees of disinhibition (below).

Emphasis of body motion during the game is related to testosterone, but agian only in high status males. (below).




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