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Stress and reward: long term cortisol exposure predicts the strength of sexual preference


Chumbley, J R; Hulme, O; Köchli, H; Russell, E; Van Uum, S; Pizzagalli, Diego A; Fehr, E (2014). Stress and reward: long term cortisol exposure predicts the strength of sexual preference. Physiology and Behavior, 131:33-40.

Abstract

Healthy individuals tend to consume available rewards like food and sex. This tendency is attenuated or amplified in most stress-related psychiatric conditions, so we asked if it depends on endogenous levels of the ‘canonical stress hormone’ cortisol. We unobtrusively quantified how hard healthy heterosexual men would work to consume erotic images of women versus men and also measured their exposure to endogenous cortisol in the prior two months. We used linear models to predict the strength of sexual preference from cortisol level, after accounting for other potential explanations. Heterosexual preference declines with self-reported anhedonia but increases with long term exposure to endogenous cortisol. These results suggest that cortisol may affect reward-related behavior in healthy adults.

Abstract

Healthy individuals tend to consume available rewards like food and sex. This tendency is attenuated or amplified in most stress-related psychiatric conditions, so we asked if it depends on endogenous levels of the ‘canonical stress hormone’ cortisol. We unobtrusively quantified how hard healthy heterosexual men would work to consume erotic images of women versus men and also measured their exposure to endogenous cortisol in the prior two months. We used linear models to predict the strength of sexual preference from cortisol level, after accounting for other potential explanations. Heterosexual preference declines with self-reported anhedonia but increases with long term exposure to endogenous cortisol. These results suggest that cortisol may affect reward-related behavior in healthy adults.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Biomedical Engineering
Dewey Decimal Classification:170 Ethics
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:28 May 2014
Deposited On:18 Feb 2015 14:57
Last Modified:14 Feb 2018 23:22
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0031-9384
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.04.013
PubMed ID:24732415

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