The effects of money exposure on testosterone and risk-taking, and the moderating role of narcissism

Eric P. Stenstrom, John B. Dinsmore, Jonathan W. Kunstman, Kathleen D. Vohs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Although prior research has demonstrated that reminders of money influence motivations and behaviors, there has been scant attention to whether money cues can alter physiological responses. An experiment testing male participants assessed whether being randomly assigned to handle money versus paper would change men's testosterone levels and affect financial risk-taking. Results showed that the effects of handling money on testosterone levels and risk-taking depended on trait narcissism. Among men low in narcissism, handling money led to a greater increase in testosterone levels from Time 1 (baseline) to Time 2 (post-manipulation) compared with their counterparts in a neutral, non-money condition. Conversely, highly narcissistic men who were randomly assigned to handle money exhibited a weaker increase in testosterone levels relative to men in the neutral condition. The results of moderated mediation analyses suggested that money exposure affected financial risk-taking through changes in testosterone levels. Men low in narcissism became more inclined to take risks through an increase in testosterone levels, whereas men high in narcissism became more risk averse via a decrease in testosterone levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-114
Number of pages5
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a Rike Consumer Research Foundation Research Grant from Wright State University . The first author acknowledges the support he received from his Richard T. Farmer Endowed Assistant Professorship and research grants from the Farmer School of Business, the Department of Marketing , and Miami University.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Money
  • Narcissism
  • Risk-taking
  • Testosterone


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