Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Elizabeth A. Shirtcliff


Interpersonal relationships are an essential part of individuals, and individuals would like to be socially dominant to maximize their fitness and future well-being and access to resources. Threatening peers can achieve dominance, but dominance can be alternatively obtained by successfully taking risks and receiving tangible or social rewards from a given task. Acute testosterone increase (i.e., testosterone reactivity) is potentially independent of basal testosterone levels in explanation of social dominance, thus status-seeking or reward-seeking tendency in individuals. To examine such tendencies and their relation to the testosterone reactivity, we conducted the status-seeking task, Skydiving task (Study 1), as well as two types of the reward-seeking task, Monetary Incentive Delay (MID) task (Study 2) and Gopher task (Study 3). The results showed that a subset of the participants showed the testosterone reactivity in all three studies, which partially supports our hypothesis. As we expected, testosterone reactivity was related to the reward-related brain activity, measured by using the FRN and P300 amplitude in the Study 2 (MID Study) and reward-related brain activation in the Study 3 (PEB Study). Biological sex was associated with basal testosterone, not directly related to testosterone reactivity. Age was not linked with the testosterone reactivity in Study 1 and 2. Those results suggest that testosterone reactivity is a unique biomarker representing an individual difference, which is not much explained by the basal testosterone level. Testosterone reactivity and its link with the social dominance-related neural, behavioral, or psychosocial correlates will be worthwhile to be invested in future research.


Copyright Owner

Yoojin Lee



File Format


File Size

187 pages