Estimating the Associations between Big Five Personality Traits, Testosterone, and Cortisol

Zachary W. Sundin, William J. Chopik*, Keith M. Welker, Esra Ascigil, Cassandra M. Brandes, Kristi Chin, Sarah Ketay, Erik L. Knight, Tobias L. Kordsmeyer, Amber R. McLarney-Vesotski, Smrithi Prasad, Zachary A. Reese, Ashlin R.K. Roy, Lester Sim, Julia Stern, Justin M. Carré, Robin S. Edelstein, Pranjal H. Mehta, Lars Penke, Richard B. SlatcherJennifer L. Tackett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: Hormones are often conceptualized as biological markers of individual differences and have been associated with a variety of behavioral indicators and characteristics, such as mating behavior or acquiring and maintaining dominance. However, before researchers create strong theoretical models for how hormones modulate individual and social behavior, information on how hormones are associated with dominant models of personality is needed. Although there have been some studies attempting to quantify the associations between personality traits, testosterone, and cortisol, there are many inconsistencies across these studies. Methods: In this registered report, we examined associations between testosterone, cortisol, and Big Five personality traits. We aggregated 25 separate samples to yield a single sample of 3964 (50.3% women; 27.7% of women were on hormonal contraceptives). Participants completed measures of personality and provided saliva samples for testosterone and cortisol assays. Results: The results from multi-level models and meta-analyses revealed mostly weak, non-significant associations between testosterone or cortisol and personality traits. The few significant effects were still very small in magnitude (e.g., testosterone and conscientiousness: r = −0.05). A series of moderation tests revealed that hormone-personality associations were mostly similar in men and women, those using hormonal contraceptives or not, and regardless of the interaction between testosterone and cortisol (i.e., a variant of the dual-hormone hypothesis). Conclusions: Altogether, we did not detect many robust associations between Big Five personality traits and testosterone or cortisol. The findings are discussed in the context of biological models of personality and the utility of examining heterogeneity in hormone-personality associations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-340
Number of pages34
JournalAdaptive Human Behavior and Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Cortisol
  • Dual-hormone hypothesis
  • Personality
  • Registered report
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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