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Study Shows Testosterone is Bad For High-Stakes Decisions

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the grunt-and-sniff dept.

Businesses 213

itwbennett writes "According to a study by researchers at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business, young CEOs with higher levels of testosterone in their system are 'more likely to initiate, scrap or resist mergers and acquisitions' — even when it's not in their best interest. 'We find a strong association between male CEOs being young and their withdrawal rate of initiated mergers and acquisition,' says Prof. Levi, whose research relies on the established correlation between relative youth and increased levels of testosterone. 'For instance, young CEOs, who have higher levels of testosterone, tend to reject offers even when this is against their interest.'"

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Beer is the next topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33596948)

Study Shows Inebriation is Bad For High-Stakes Decisions

Testosterone? Really? (2, Insightful)

zaft (597194) | more than 4 years ago | (#33596952)

Oh geez, this is just stupid. At least the headline is stupid. There's nothing in TFA to suggest that testosterone as such has anything to do with! It's just age and presumably experience. Geez.

Re:Testosterone? Really? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597020)

There's nothing in TFA to suggest that testosterone as such has anything to do with!

Not denying that it may be stupid, not fully agreeing either - just pointing out that you are wrong (at least in form) - the TFA does reference studies in regarding the level of testosterone and results of negotiations:

  • the TFA bears the title of "Young, male, testosterone-fueled CEOs...".
  • from the body of the TFA:

    Burnham found that, among those considering the offers, participants with higher levels of testosterone were more likely to reject what they perceived as low offers, ending up with nothing as a result.

    A podcast interview with Prof. Levi on the results of “Deal or No Deal: Hormones and the Mergers and Acquisitions Game” can be found on the INFORMS website at www.scienceofbetter.org/podcast.

Re:Testosterone? Really? (2, Interesting)

vidnet (580068) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597434)

But interestingly, testosterone seems to have the opposite effect on women. [scientificamerican.com]

Women who received a placebo but believed they had received testosterone offered fair money splits only 10 percent of the time, probably because they harbored a negative stereotype of testosterone's effects. Women who were given testosterone but thought it was a placebo, on the other hand, offered fair-share splits 60 percent of the time--significantly more often than those who correctly guessed they got testosterone (30 percent) or a placebo (50 percent).

The difference is 10%. Neither TFA or this FA mention sample size (boo!), but unless it was tragically low, this should be significant.

Re:Testosterone? Really? (1)

eluusive (642298) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597676)

I read the article. There is nothing written in this article to suggest that experience and testosterone were deconvolved suitably in their analysis. Do you have the actual paper, where they somehow account for age and wisdom? If they did not test *before* and *after* being giving people testosterone there is no basis for claiming their results were from testosterone and not wisdom. It's more likely their statistics are fubar than this is a good study.

Re:Testosterone? Really? (3, Insightful)

eluusive (642298) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597716)

From their actual paper [ssrn.com] 's conclusion section: "In this paper we examine whether testosterone, which is associated with male dominance seeking and which we have proxied by male CEO age, is associated with M&A withdrawals, the use of tender offers, and bid initiation." Fucking ridiculous, I'm surprised this paper even got published. They didn't even sample anyone's testosterone.

RTFA. SRSLY. (5, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597028)

Actually, no, if you actually RTFA (I know, I know, it's Slashdot), you'll find out that no, it's also based on a study where they actually asked people to play a sort of game, and they actually measured testosterone levels. Those who had more testosterone, tended to be more competitive even when it resulted in losing the game.

In fact those with high testosterone levels ended up doing things as irrational in any imaginable circumstance as to basically reject an offer of free money, just because they perceived it as being too low. You don't want someone like that making economic decisions.

Just age and experience had nothing to do with it. Those test subjects who were just as young but more deficient in the testosterone department tended to take more rational decisions.

Basically, thinking with your dick is bad. The stereotype of the Real Man with real balls may have been a plus when it came to making him do dumb stuff like going to get stabbed at for his king, but it turns out to be a liability when the job requires more thinking with the head upstairs than with the one below the belt. You want someone taking economic decisions because they make logical and mathematical sense, not because it's his kind of measuring dick size against the partners.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597048)

If someone is offering you free money, there has to be a catch somewhere. Otherwise, economically speaking, they're being irrational.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (2, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597090)

Well, as a general criterion, I would agree with you, but here we're talking a simple game with clear rules. The offer to get free money was clearly just an offer to get free money. The one offering it didn't get to write some "I own your kids now" clause in the fine print or anything.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597728)

Otherwise, economically speaking, they're being irrational.

And humans would never do that!

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597918)

I think the premise is that A offers B a share of money. If B rejects, neither A nor B get anything. Thus it is in the interest of A to offer B a share that B will accept.

Usually, the whole sum is low enough that neither really suffer from getting nothing, and as such the game more tests cooperation vs vindication rather than greed.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (2, Insightful)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597068)

The stereotype of the Real Man with real balls may have been a plus when it came to making him do dumb stuff like going to get stabbed at for his king, but it turns out to be a liability when the job requires more thinking with the head upstairs than with the one below the belt. You want someone taking economic decisions because they make logical and mathematical sense, not because it's his kind of measuring dick size against the partners.

Yet these same aggressive young men are the ones that start new businesses, thinking they've got what it takes to make it big, even though realistically the odds are against them. These same young men manage to convince investors and shareholders that they have got what it takes.

From an intellectual point of view I fully agree with you, but in the real world decisions are often made based on emotions, not facts. Just look around a big corporation who the guys are that rise to the top. Is it the quiet intellectuals that think with their heads or the sales guys that play people's emotions like a well tuned piano?

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (2, Funny)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597078)

There's a name for people who play people's emotions like a piano. It's not "young and brave". It's "sociopath" :p

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (2, Funny)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597168)

no, no, NO! it's not politically correct to call politicians that.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597278)

Don't worry about it, I don't think sociopaths spend much time on slashdot anyways.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597326)

Sure we do.... watching and waiting...

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597334)

Certainly a lot of these [wikipedia.org] around though..

Beware!: Infinite Loop Ahead! *head a splodes*.... (3, Funny)

rts008 (812749) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597286)

...not politically correct to call politicians...

I see what you did there...sneaky...

You tried to inject one of the biggest, baddest, most highly concentrated Oxymorons known to mankind('politically correct') into a funny jab at politicians!

You tricky devil. ;-)

Re:Beware!: Infinite Loop Ahead! *head a splodes*. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597764)

Yeah, this should be modded up instead of the original joke.

Hey, I understood a joke. Cha-Ching goes the karma register.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597504)

There's a name for people who play people's emotions like a piano. It's not "young and brave". It's "sociopath" :p

But what if I am a sociopath, you sensitive clod?!

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597564)

But what if I am a sociopath, you sensitive clod?!

Then I hope you're the of sociopath kind who, after climbing to the top, will take the business decisions with the head on your neck, not with the one in your pants.

Really, the point I was actually trying to make there was that being either young or insecure and needing to prove penis size, isn't what makes those aggressive young things play other people's emotions on the way to the top. Being a sociopath isn't even necessarily a bad thing in today's culture, where we actually expect corporations to behave like complete sociopaths, and some humans to take those decisions and rationalize them to the rest of the plebs. After all, whatever a company does, the decision was taken by some humans. But it looks to me like it's orthogonal to age or testosterone. That's what I was trying to say.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (2, Interesting)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597220)

suppose someone understands people's emotions and can use them to their advantage. that doesn't mean they are controlled by their emotions... on the contrary.
and another thing: the best leaders are those that have good advisors, and listen to those advisors. high levels of testosterone will probably lead you to do things your own way, to prove yourself. from an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense: the hormone is there to push everyone to do their own thing, so females can pick the winners.
hopefully, human society has evolved beyond the point where we need the other guys to fail so that we can succeed.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597446)

Yet these same aggressive young men are the ones that start new businesses, thinking they've got what it takes to make it big, even though realistically the odds are against them. These same young men manage to convince investors and shareholders that they have got what it takes.

Thing is, the investors are usually the older types. They made their money already and are now financing startups. These people will invest in a company with someone they think is a poor lead if they think the company product looks good.

Once you have a few investors you have a board - stocked with the older types who invested - who make most of the major decisions for you. The CEO is really just a face for the board and the person who makes day to day minor decisions about the running of the company. If the CEO turns out to be useless he can be neutered by board action.

This is why these companies succeed. Not because the young punk with his penis size at stake is doing a good job. It also helps if they're filling a niche and not just being a me-too knock off.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597466)

This is also why startups succeed at a less than 1:9 rate.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597750)

Yet these same aggressive young men are the ones that start new businesses, thinking they've got what it takes to make it big, even though realistically the odds are against them.

The odds are against them, as you say. More than half of all startups fail within the first year. Unless you have a really original idea and the skill to take it to market, starting a new business is normally an bad decision.

These same young men manage to convince investors and shareholders that they have got what it takes.

Could be. The last startup I worked for (which also went bust) was created by a young woman, and she didn't manage to convince any investors or shareholders, just banks to lend her money (and not at a great interest rate). The investors, however, do not necessarily think that the startup will do well. They think that, of their portfolio of 10 startups, one of them will offer a greater than 10:1 return on investment and the other 9 will fail (for example).

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

drewhk (1744562) | more than 4 years ago | (#33598124)

Also, there is the method of "Burning Up Bridges" when you deliberately limit your choices -- like Cortez scuttling his ships. While this seems as an irrational deed, it could be useful in cases. Game theoretically speaking, you eliminate some of the possible outcomes of the original game to force a new equilibrium.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (-1, Redundant)

DarrenBaker (322210) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597110)

Correlation, causation, etc... Could it be that whatever is causing higher levels of testosterone is also causing their bad-decision making? Lifestyle? Choice of career? Hot grad student applying the test?

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1, Insightful)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597116)

In fact those with high testosterone levels ended up doing things as irrational in any imaginable circumstance as to basically reject an offer of free money, just because they perceived it as being too low. You don't want someone like that making economic decisions.

On the contrary... I really don't want econ majors making economic decisions. The idea the ultimatum game forces people to treat each other fairly... well, that's a world I want to live it.

In the case of the ultimatum game, as long as all of society is consistently utility maximizing or fairness maximizing, it works. It's the mixture where it breaks down.

Thinking with your dick, and being known for thinking with your dick can be a lot better for you than acting in a short-term profit maximizing manner.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597400)

In the case of the ultimatum game, as long as all of society is consistently utility maximizing or fairness maximizing, it works. It's the mixture where it breaks down.

Society is constantly attempting to maximize for thousands of different things at the same time.
Our regulatory framework is constantly attempting to maximize thousands of different things at once.

Thinking that we should only maximize for X or only maximize for Y is exactly the kind of short term thinking you decry.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

Cyrus20 (1345311) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597138)

somehow I call that ego but that is just me

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (3, Interesting)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597270)

In fact those with high testosterone levels ended up doing things as irrational in any imaginable circumstance as to basically reject an offer of free money, just because they perceived it as being too low. You don't want someone like that making economic decisions.

Just a small point, but the "ultimatum game" has been conducted many times and the consistent issue it raises is that people often reject low offers, even though as you note it's to reject free money. The new study in part gives one possible explanation for why young men might reject free money in the "ultimatum game", but it doesn't explain everyone else's reasons nor is there any evidence that it's the young males who were the group that most often rejected in previous "ultimatum game" studies. Btw, the Nash equilibrium, optimal solution for splitting $100 would be to offer $0.01 and keep $99.99. Would you accept that?

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (3, Informative)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597706)

Btw, the Nash equilibrium, optimal solution for splitting $100 would be to offer $0.01 and keep $99.99. Would you accept that?

How is this a Nash equilibrium?

BTW, it's quite rational to reject $0.01 when the other player receives $99.99, since after the game the richer player has more options available to spend money than the poorer player. If the two players have zero dollars in their pockets to begin with, then any outcome away from 50/50 leads to relative inequality after the game. If the first player offers more than 50 to the other, then he knows that the second player will accept, leading to inequatiy and an incentive to reduce the amount back to 50. But if he offers less than 50 to the other player, then there will be inequality unless the second player rejects. So it's irrational to offer less than 50, and Nash is at 50/50.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597788)

That's just the point, though. Yes, it's relative inequality between you and the other player, but you need to consider yourself against where you were before, not where the other guy is gonna be. By refusing an offer of $20 because the other guy will get $80, you're assuring that you'll stay exactly where you were to begin with, whereas you could have come out ahead $20.

I don't think testosterone is the only cause, but I do see a lot more males doing stupid things than females. I would guess that social upbringing is a large part of it, but I also know from anecdotal experience that those with more testosterone in their system tend to be a lot more competitive, and that women seem to be a lot better at compromise. (take with a grain of salt, if you will, as I am female, and I don't make any effort to disguise my disdain for the male of the species)

And yes, it's a lot more complicated than just that when you're discussing something like a corporate merger or acquisition: you need to consider the potential worth of your assets, as well as whether the offer will reward you adequately for your time/effort. But as a microcosm for the real world, the game does work: it's not about your worth relative to the other guy, it's about your worth relative to where you started, and what the offer would free you to pursue. And no, the difference in thinking is not divided along male/female lines in my experience.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (2, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597844)

By refusing an offer of $20 because the other guy will get $80, you're assuring that you'll stay exactly where you were to begin with, whereas you could have come out ahead $20.

That's wrong though. By accepting the $20, you make yourself poorer than the other guy, which is why it's irrational to accept that offer (obviously some people aren't always rational...).

Money doesn't have absolute value, only relative value. In a market economy, the guy with $80 can always outbid the guy with $20 on everything. That means if you deliberately place yourself in a position to be outbid, then you are coming out behind. Since you can fix that by not accepting, that strategy (of accepting the $20) can't belong to a Nash equilibrium.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (3, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#33598090)

Which is why you don't play the Ultimatum Game against each other. You are competing against yourself in your current situation. If you take the $20, you become $20 richer. If you don't take the $20, you are no richer.

Your "Give me more than you" ultimatum results in a persistent loss for both, which is undesirable. Relatively you are no worse or better off. Realistically you are poorer.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

drewhk (1744562) | more than 4 years ago | (#33598170)

Consider a variation of the game, when you explicitly signal to the other player that you will not accept an offer worse than 50/50. In that case, (if you are convincing enough), the game changes drastically. To shamelessly copy-paste Wikipedia (from Chicken (game) article):

"Pre-commitment

One tactic in the game is for one party to signal their intentions convincingly before the game begins. For example, if one party were to ostentatiously disable their steering wheel just before the match, the other party would be compelled to swerve [12]. This shows that, in some circumstances, reducing one's own options can be a good strategy. One real-world example is a protester who handcuffs himself to an object, so that no threat can be made which would compel him to move (since he cannot move). Another example, taken from fiction, is found in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. In that film, the Russians sought to deter American attack by building a "doomsday machine," a device that would trigger world annihilation if Russia was hit by nuclear weapons. However, the Russians failed to signal — they deployed their doomsday machine covertly."

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597960)

Being a male who has transcended the age between young and old, my experience is that capricious behaviour in young men is very much more a conditioning thing from society than caused by testosterone.

Testosterone affects libido and to some extent temper, not any ambitions of social standing. On the contrary, I'd say - being under strong influence of testosterone is quite detrimental to your social ambitions as society works today. I clearly recall the tantrums and omnipotence fits I had at age 16 or so, and while such may be beneficial for an ape, it did not make me more appreciated by peers and girls.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597414)

Those who had more testosterone, tended to be more competitive even when it resulted in losing the game.

Okay, and this is "not in their best interests" why, exactly? It's a pretty narrow view that "winning" by making more money is the "good" result. What if you don't give a toss about money, and want to have fun?

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597422)

"Just age and experience had nothing to do with it. Those test subjects who were just as young but more deficient in the testosterone department ..."

We usually call them 'women'.

Same conditions apply to politicians, too (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597632)

That could explain why some of the younger generation of politicians make such stoopid political decision.

Oh, hang on - probably the most idiotic decisions of the late 20/early 21st century were made by old guys. Maybe there should be a modifier for senility as well.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

eluusive (642298) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597684)

There's nothing in the article to suggest that testosterone and age were suitably deconvolved in their analysis of the data.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

jewishbaconzombies (1861376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597704)

And that's why women are paid more than men.

The end.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

eluusive (642298) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597724)

From their actual paper [ssrn.com] 's conclusion section: "In this paper we examine whether testosterone, which is associated with male dominance seeking and which we have proxied by male CEO age, is associated with M&A withdrawals, the use of tender offers, and bid initiation." No, they didn't sample anyone's testosterone. Go RTFA the real FA.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597734)

The stereotype of the Real Man with real balls may have been a plus when it came to making him do dumb stuff like going to get stabbed at for his king, but it turns out to be a liability when the job requires more thinking with the head upstairs than with the one below the belt..

Unless kings were genetic engineers breeding that kind of men for themselves, this theory makes no sense. Its probably more that testosterone helps you actually to get women (through display of strength, work and otherwise - most of which is not very rational but most of which DOES display your health). Which was kind of your primary "job" - old folks run the "thinking/experience required" part of society meanwhile.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (1)

bartwol (117819) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597952)

thinking with your dick is bad

Somebody [via highly suspect inference] mentions testosterone and you immediately start thinking about penises. I can trace your connection but find it even less salient and more dubious than theirs (which is very dubious and non-salient).

Anyway...that penis thing...you might do well to think a bit less with yours...it looks to be a tad bit hurt.

Re:RTFA. SRSLY. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597990)

if you actually RTFA (I know, I know, it's Slashdot), you'll find out that .. they actually measured testosterone levels

Well, no. The actual study in question clearly says "We empirically investigate the role of male CEO testosterone (proxied by age)". No other measurements than age were done. They do reference the study that includes the game you mention. The jump from age to testosterone is done on extremely flimsy ground IMO: they basically hand wave away the effects of e.g. experience.

Re:Testosterone? Really? (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597040)

It makes senses, I think. Testosterone makes them feel macho, like they have something to prove, even if it's against their interest. It's a stereo type, come to think of it.

Re:Testosterone? Really? (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597150)

Indeed, I can think of many factors to do with being young that might cause this behaviour... Testosterone levels is one, having just set up their baby company and wanting to keep it their baby is another, there are many more.

Re:Testosterone? Really? (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597780)

"It's just age and presumably experience"

The latter one is correct, while the form is not. Age doesn't equal experience. Knowledge does. While an older person has had more time to acquire knowledge, that doesn't necessarily mean that they have memorized more information or are more experienced than their younger counterpart.

Re:Testosterone? Really? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597980)

While an older person has had more time to acquire knowledge, that doesn't necessarily mean that they have memorized more information or are more experienced than their younger counterpart.

Let me guess: you're under 30?

Re:Testosterone? Really? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33598036)

It is a bit counterintuitive and inconsistent with my experience (I've had sex with a lot of them) for young men with high testosterone levels to pull out.

Easily solved (4, Funny)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#33596954)

Make castration a standard step of getting an MBA?

One way or the other its bound to make the world a better place ;-)

Re:Easily solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597004)

more sexist bullshit from feminists/manginas?

Re:Easily solved (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597084)

I think that's an overreaction. (s)he said nothing about castrating only males. Females would of course be included in any such proposition.

However, I don't think the world would be a better place if MBAs couldn't have babies. There would be fewer things to distract the corporates from pillaging the average hard working citizen.

Re:Easily solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597310)

perhaps not, but by bringing gender into it, it has made my point relevant. I notice a lot of male bashing in the media and in so called 'scientific' studies like this one. Not just males, but anything related to male behavior gets a negative spin. This includes things like corporate competition. very few of the big companies today got where they are now because they made the logical choices when they were started, presumably by young CEOs.

On the contrary (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597664)

This includes things like corporate competition. very few of the big companies today got where they are now because they made the logical choices when they were started, presumably by young CEOs.

Actually, on the contrary, I think that if anyone did a serious statistic, they'd find that the only reason they're now big companies instead of also ran, is that at some point down the line they made a decision that made sense. Like, dunno, Sharp realizing that there's a more lucrative market for radios than for pencils, or someone at IBM realizing that there's a business case for smaller and cheaper computers ("smaller" those days meaning "than a room"), or some crazy guy called Edison believing they can make money with those newfangled lightbulbs although they cost more than an oil lamp at first, and so on. While they may have been riskier propositions than just doing the same old thing, they were all actually quite rational business decisions and someone had a very good idea why they expect a R in ROI.

The companies where the decisions were taken with the dick, and just to establish alpha male status... well, you can look at 90% of the dot-coms for an example. That's people who blew all the money on alpha status symbols, be it cars costing more than the company's total income, luxurious headquarters they couldn't even afford, whole sports teams, or even just a bigger herd of programmers than the Joneses' dot-com, or did acquisitions of other dot-coms that also had no income, just for the sake of showing the whole world who's the daddy now.

The companies led by a dick thinking with the dick aren't the Fortune 500 list, but those 80% of startups that fail right away.

Re:Easily solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597888)

I don't think that successful businesses ultimately begin with rash and capricious decisions based on a desire to build a monument over one's manly greatness.

I think they begin by wise and clever thinking, timing and market positioning and a desire to prevail hardships. None of those are typically or exclusively masculine traits.

Re:Easily solved (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597070)

Make castration a standard step of getting an MBA?

One way or the other its bound to make the world a better place ;-)

Oh Carly [wikipedia.org] , is that you?

Re:Easily solved (1)

jewishbaconzombies (1861376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597714)

Then only married men would get MBAs.

And the funny thing is you know I'm right.

Testosterone? (2, Insightful)

Ventriloquate (551798) | more than 4 years ago | (#33596962)

Young CEOs are not in the same position as their older counterparts. Thus, the decisions they make may be based on another factor.

Re:Testosterone? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597036)

From the TFA:

In the two-player game, subjects had to agree on how to divide 40 dollars or risk losing it all. Participants who begin with the entire sum of money could offer only five dollars or 25 dollars to their competitor.

Burnham found that, among those considering the offers, participants with higher levels of testosterone were more likely to reject what they perceived as low offers, ending up with nothing as a result.

Now: were the players CEOs? Were they, at least, representatively chosen? TFA doesn't say, but the same TFA gives enough info to say the research at least eliminated factor of "not being in the same position as their older counterparts".

Re:Testosterone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597428)

"The researchers analyzed 350 merger and acquisition bids in the United States between 1997 and 2007, using a securities database from Thomson SDC."

Re:Testosterone? (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597142)

For one thing, they have other concerns than retirement so they are less likely to make safe but low-gains investments.

Re:Testosterone? (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597642)

The survey shows a link between young managers and resistance to mergers. Unless they measured testosterone levels in each of the people (which I don't think they have?) then there is no more reason to believe it has any more to do with it than amount of hair on their heads). Is anyone really that shocked by this? A lot of younger people would rather aim for the top and risk hitting the bottom than settle for 2nd place. I expect my own decisions are more risky now than they will be as I age.

interest defined? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33596970)

Interest defined as such? Perhaps not every CEO's interest is in making the 'correct' decision? Those high in testosterone also tend to be those who prefer an individualistic course, rather than a desire to merge and thus become more dependent on society. These courses often bring about unique results, some good, some bad, but as we all know, good and bad are subjective terms.

Perhaps this is paranoia, but I am suspicious of social 'studies' that come from countries that seem to want to elevate certain cross sections as 'more equal' than others. Their media tends to lavish women and minorites with praise every time one of them accomplishes something, and when something bad happens that involves males, only then are they elevated to the same level of 'attention.' When men do good things, they are demoted to title status, ie "firefighters rescued 14 victims today.." or "17 soldiers were killed...." etc. Perhaps this particular study is honest, but these days, I have my doubts.

Do you know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33596974)

Do you know who make psychology look like physics? Business academics.

Western civilization is doomed...

Slot A, Tab B. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33596990)

'We find a strong association between male CEOs being young and their withdrawal rate of initiated mergers and acquisition,' says Prof. Levi, whose research relies on the established correlation between relative youth and increased levels of testosterone.

Give them estrogen and they'll keep it in longer.

Control for experience? (4, Interesting)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#33596998)

How did they control for experience? Pump old guys full of testosterone?

Ugg Outlet Boots (-1, Offtopic)

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Re:Control for experience? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597094)

Hmm they seem to be a bit confused regarding causality here. In the interests of science, what if we try a small substitution/amendment:

"According to a study by researchers at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business, young CEOs with higher levels of PARTICIPATION IN SOCCER/MASTURBATION/INTEREST IN SPACE TRAVEL/IPOD OWNERSHIP are 'more likely to initiate, scrap or resist mergers and acquisitions' — even when it's not in their best interest. 'We find a strong association between male CEOs being young and their withdrawal rate of initiated mergers and acquisition,' says Prof. Levi, whose research relies on the established correlation between relative youth and PARTICIPATION IN SOCCER/MASTURBATION/INTEREST IN SPACE TRAVEL/IPOD OWNERSHIP. 'For instance, young CEOs, who have higher levels of PARTICIPATION IN SOCCER/MASTURBATION/INTEREST IN SPACE TRAVEL/IPOD OWNERSHIP, tend to reject offers even when this is against their interest.'"

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597156)

They assumed anyone with enough hostility to yell, "get off my lawn" had enough.

In related news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597014)

http://www.newslocale.org/health/hnews/anti-stress_vaccine_may_turn_off_stress_hormones_in_the_brain_2010080411212.html

Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597016)

Why is it assumed that the path with the highest short-term payoff is the rational one? What if you actually care about what the company that you oversee does?

And before anyone responds with this, not everyone believes the current interpretation of Dodge v. Ford [hbr.org] is good law.

31 of 34 directors surveyed (each of whom served on an average of six Fortune 200 boards) said they’d cut down a mature forest or release a dangerous, unregulated toxin into the environment in order to increase profits. Whatever they could legally do to maximize shareholder wealth, they believed it was their duty to do.

Ugg Outlet Boots (-1, Offtopic)

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more likely to initiate, scrap or resist (1)

abednegoyulo (1797602) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597046)

while others are?

re: Not in their best interests (5, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597050)

are 'more likely to initiate, scrap or resist mergers and acquisitions' — even when it's not in their best interest. '

'For instance, young CEOs, who have higher levels of testosterone, tend to reject offers even when this is against their interest.'

First of all it says "even when it's not in their best interest". This is a strange claim. CEOs are not supposed to make decisions that are in their best interest anyways, they are specifically supposed to make decisions that are in their company's best interest, and in particular, that best serve the shareholders of their company. To intentionally do otherwise would be reckless, not what they agree to do by becoming CEO, and could get them sued, nonetheless.

Second of all what is in a person (or company's) best interest is subjective. To claim they are acting against their interest, you are applying prescriptive measures --- that they in your opinion should do certain things. For example "facebook should have agreed to merge with twitter". That is your opinion, which might or might not bear out.

To cast a point of view about whether it was in their best interests or not is "in retrospect". In retrospect it is always easy to say someone should or should not have done that, knowing the outcome. Not knowing the outcome, it is not so clear, and they are CEO there, not you, which is presumably out of some merit.

“We find a strong association between male CEOs being young and their withdrawal rate of initiated mergers and acquisition,” says Prof. Levi, whose research relies on the established correlation between relative youth and increased levels of testosterone.

I sense a case of post-hoc ergo propter hoc here.

Perhaps a better explanation would be, they are young, so they are as individuals less experienced, less wise, their age could have something to do with it.

Also, the fact that they're male doesn't mean testosterone -- if a different pattern was observed in females, there would be other differences besides testosterone difference.

You can't have an anecdotal study and have it be a legitimate study. You can't rely on knowing the fact that males of that age tend to have higher levels of testosterone and assume these groups of CEOs have higher levels of testosterone because they fall into that age category.

If you drew blood, you might find a totally different correlation between these CEOs and low levels of testosterone. Without even sampling the variable you are trying to make claims about, this is not an experiment, and not science.

Re: Not in their best interests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597166)

I agree with this.

As well, numerous articles I've read that are based on actual studies of testosterone show it actually promotes pro-social behaviour in humans. In people who were given placebos and told that they had the testosterone, however, the results changed dramatically toward anti-social behaviour. It showed quite conclusively that our prejudices about the role of testosterone are vastly opposite to what it actually does do.

In short, TFA is an outright fabrication based on prejudices about testosterone.

Re: Not in their best interests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597218)

Study here. [physorg.com]

Re: Not in their best interests (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#33598044)

"We find a strong association between male CEOs being young and their withdrawal rate of initiated mergers and acquisition," says Prof. Levi, whose research relies on the established correlation between relative youth and increased levels of testosterone.

I sense a case of post-hoc ergo propter hoc here.

I was disappointed (but not surprised) to see this in the summary. It says right in the summary that this study is completely flawed bullshit, but it was posted here anyway. Couldn't find any real nerd news, huh? Thanks for making slashdot grate, samzenpus.

Uselesss study? (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597140)

Studies that overlap with common sense, and are pure statistical bias, are useless. Common sense already give us the tip that a young CEO will be more prone to see things as a "fight". But that tip is not usefull, THE ceo we have here can be young, and still be inclined to accept a merge. Statistical bias means nothing wen we face individuals. Only if we where doing 900 merges daily, will mean something.

Dumbest study ever? (0)

buybuydandavis (644487) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597146)

Is this just another article written by an idiot know nothing journalist, completely distorting the conclusions of scientific studies, or are there really researchers this moronic?

The original study with the artificial game was bad enough, if it really claimed that by rejecting the lowball offers, one was acting against one's interest. That ignores established research on fairness and assertiveness. It is not surprising that testosterone would correlate with either.

But this second study would have so many obvious confounding variables, and was so completely uncontrolled, that their conclusions are ridiculous. And finally, the biggest problem is the claim that they were acting against their interests. Really? How exactly did they scientifically measure that? The Self-Interest-Meter? Where can I pick up one of those?

###
"whose research relies on the established correlation between relative youth and increased levels of testosterone"

“For instance, young CEOs, who have higher levels of testosterone, tend to reject offers even when this is against their interest.”
###

Spectacularly dumb. Maybe the paper itself is not this idiotic, but if the broad outlines of the data collected and analyzed are correct, and they really think they can conclude something about testosterone and decision making from this data, I don't see any reason to read the paper.

Re:Dumbest study ever? (1)

koiransuklaa (1502579) | more than 4 years ago | (#33598040)

The sad thing is, they realize the problem of proxying testosterone by age and spend a couple of pages hand waving it away and fail pretty badly... Your gut feeling is correct, no need to read the paper.

Why Blacks are poor. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597206)

They have more testosterone than other peoples. Unless the correlation between being young and high testosterone levels ruin the significance of the study.

PBS (nova) go-carts, backhoes, baby-changing ? (1)

hashstamp (1685292) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597252)

I cannot manage to find the title by searching, maybe someone can help me remember the exact title of the excellent (made-in-UK) PBS show I saw once on this exact topic, most likely Nature or Nova. Here is what I remember...
The star of the show turned out to be an "Investment Banker", his readings showed strong but controlled hormone swings as he calmly steered his go-kart around the track to an excellent time, while others with higher testosterone levels spun out. He could pick up an egg with a backhoe, and wasn't too bad at changing a baby. At the end they compared their finger lengths to confirm this was a good predictor of hormone level.
ALSO there was a WOMAN with a high testosterone level, she was the only one of the women who could pick up an egg with a backhoe, and she was some kind of aerospace engineer in real life.

Re:PBS (nova) go-carts, backhoes, baby-changing ? (1)

Sqreater (895148) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597858)

I'd bet that Madame Curie - two times Nobel Prize winner in physics in the early 1900s had hair on her upper lip too.

Women (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597296)

Would be the best CEOs then.

In that case, the solution's simple (2, Funny)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597306)

"You want to be CEO? Certainly, just put your balls in this guillotine ....."

Apart from producing a more successful brand (geld?) of CEO, it will also test just how badly they really want the job. Of course the test can only be carried out once - unless you relieve them of a single testicle first, to see how they get on, with the option of taking the remaining one if they do dumb things. ..... That, itself might be all the motivation they need.

A handy side-effect would be a reduction in the number of sexual harassment suits against top executives.

Re:In that case, the solution's simple (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597524)

A handy side-effect would be a reduction in the number of sexual harassment suits against top executives.

:D Another side-effect: the management transforms from a "men-world" into a women-world.
To be more precise, from a "dog-eat-dog world" into a "bitch eat dogs of all sexes world". :D

High stakes? (1)

Reed Solomon (897367) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597318)

Like arguments with women?

Leading, no doubt, to the adage... (5, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597384)

..."Age and treachery beat youth and enthusiasm every time."

Re:Leading, no doubt, to the adage... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597914)

"Never get in a fight with an old man, if he cannot beat you he will kill you."

I might be speaking as a feminazi, but... (1)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597396)

Where is the study about how female hormones make a smarter and better CEO out of you? I honestly did not expect less from a the Rambo-hormone....

Re:I might be speaking as a feminazi, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597730)

Just go to Swedish Feminist University and you will be full of studies like that. It is a firmly held belief that women makes better doctors CEOs professors lawyers nurses and fucking-everything-better. There are even voices raised that single women should be given state paid inseminations in order to not have to deal with men, even to reproduce. I am serious. Google it. And google assange rape while you're at it. Sweden is ahead, you will soon be obeying the feminazis too.

All fine and well (1)

codeButcher (223668) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597412)

All fine and well, but a person can't really change his (or her) endocrine makeup (except with probably expensive and repeated medical intervention, which may have some nasty side-effects on your health). So learn to live with your and others' bad choices.

Yeah I know, life's a b*ch. What else is new?

In other news (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597460)

Young men are more impulsive than old ones. But I don't work for a business school, so you should just reject that as anecdotal evidence.

Gynocentric crappola (3, Interesting)

Sqreater (895148) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597650)

More anti-male blindness, demonizing, and beyond-the-pale gynocentrism. It doesn't seem to matter that everything we have as far as science, industry, technology, and government comes from male agressive creativity -- testosterone mediated inventive behaviors. The passive "doership" of the estrogenoni seems to be the only good and useful thing in our politically correct society. I guess James Watt, Maudsley, Edison, Ford, Einstein, Jobs, Gates.....were all making bad testosterone-filled mistakes. Far from mistakes, they made good, aggressive, risk-taking decisions driven by testosterone. It is more likely that the half of the human population that does not do these things is poisoned by its estrogen into being passive to the point of making NO decisions than possibly wrong aggressively creative decisions. Researchers, stop the constant male bashing.

Re:Gynocentric crappola (4, Interesting)

eluusive (642298) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597732)

It's funny, because if you go find their actual paper [ssrn.com] , they didn't measure testosterone at all. "In this paper we examine whether testosterone, which is associated with male dominance seeking and which we have proxied by male CEO age, is associated with M&A withdrawals, the use of tender offers, and bid initiation." Fucking ridiculous, I'm surprised this paper even got published.

Some Other Points to Make (1)

bratwiz (635601) | more than 4 years ago | (#33597778)

Some other points to make are:

#1. How they define 'in who's interest'. The question is whether or not the supposed 'young and brash' males believe the 'deal' to be in their interest.

#2. They are young and do not have the same level of 'life experience' and 'tempered wisdom', regardless of their "testosterone" levels as their older counterparts.

#3. They may be more likely to believe that they can lead their companies to better victories ("deals") than those presented by the "researchers".

#4. It may be that they do not "compute" the "value" of the "deal" in the same manner as the researchers (which seems pretty obvious to me they don't).

#5. Other studies have shown that corporate CEO's tend to be better at 'lying' and often seem to have near-psychopathic personalities. How is this accounted for in the study?

#6. If women are so darned good at running and managing big corporations-- where are they? Money talks-- if that's one of their supposed "strengths", then how come the business world hasn't employed them in that capacity for eons? You can't trot out "the old boy's network" on this one-- we're talking world-wide, different cultures, different eras, and in the one field where nothing much matters except the return on investment. If women are so great, why aren't they *already* out running companies?

#7. Women *do* make good assembly line workers for electronics manufacturers. That is an area where their "innate gifts" have proven to be effective. Also telephone operators. Stuff that's boring and repetitive, they're pretty good at.

Saw this a while ago on the financial boards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33597948)

The analysis was different in financial circles where the results were basically described as individuals with high testosterone are more likely to make risky decisions. Therefore these individuals either won big or lost big. The financial guys ate that up as a positive thing.

It doesn't surprise me that geeks like here on Slashdot are much more risk adverse and consider those traits as a negative. Interesting social interpretations here.

Like all things, I personally believe the answer is in moderation. So you want a CEO with just the right balance of gambling on growth versus security and stagnation.

Generational decrease in Testosterone? (1)

kick6 (1081615) | more than 4 years ago | (#33598150)

How does this theory jive with the notion that young men today (at least in the US) have significantly reduced levels of testosterone compared to our fathers and grandfathers?
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