Testosterone and unconscious positive priming increase human motivation separately

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Abstract

Clinical observations suggest that testosterone generates unconscious broad-spectrum motivations to act. It has also been suggested that subliminal positive-priming techniques also unconsciously enhances motivation for action. This placebo-controlled study examined the separate and possible joint contributions of these assumed unconscious sources of human motivation. Healthy females were administered 0.5 mg sublingual testosterone or placebo. Next, they were subliminally primed with action concepts that were paired with positive or neutral cues, and indicated their motivation for the respective action. Testosterone and positive priming both increased the motivation for action, but there was no joint contribution. Possibly, testosterone pushed the motivational brain system to a limit allowing no add-on contribution by priming, but our data also agree with neuroimaging evidence showing that the neural (subcortical and cortical) pathways of motivation can be functionally disconnected by testosterone administration.

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