Software Creation Mystery -

Testosterone, irrational choices and programmers

The Economist article claims that men with a lot of testosterone level make more curious choices. Dr. Burnham of Harvard University research shows that high-testosterone men reject low ultimatum game offers more often. In this experiment, men who reject low offers ($5 out of $40) have significantly higher testosterone levels than those who accept.
The research supports the idea that people really strive for relative rather than absolute prosperity. They would rather accept less themselves than see a rival get ahead. In a variety of species, testosterone is associated with male seeking dominance. If low ultimatum game offers are interpreted as challenges, then high-testosterone men may be more likely to reject such offers.
Economists often refer to this sort of behavior as irrational. In fact, it is differently rational. The main outcome for men is a social status—that brings desirable reproductive opportunities. Money could help, but if another route brings that status more directly, money is irrelevant.

Comments: How this research is related to programmers and software creation?

  1. Many programmers (their bosses and, recursively, bosses of their bosses) have high testosterone level, and therefore could exhibit curious and irrational behavior including politics, conflicts and bad decisions for the software project. Is it possible to prevent such behavior? I believe the practices that modern society are using for fighting with dark sides of human nature could help. Transparency of decisions, free opinions and equal intolerance to unsocial behavior disregarding ranks. Can The Ideal Software Company help?
  2. Social status in the company could be stronger motivator than money for high-testosterone men: better computers, more praise and ability to influence decisions. However, the knowledge that somebody gets more money for the same work could be very depressing for any testosterone level men :).
  3. High testosterone level could be the strong driving force for achievements and very useful if properly applied. But too many of this kind of people could cause a lot trouble and disturbance in the Force :).
  4. Here is an interesting quick method to determine testosterone level. Married man with children have the lowest level.
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Software Creation Mystery -
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