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International psychology - economics study launches at NU

​The international team of researchers leading the study (l-r): Dr. Anna Dreber, Dr. Gideon Nave, Dr. Pranjal Mehta, Dr. Coren Apicella, Dr. Justin Carre, Dr. Magnus Johannesson.
A landmark research study featuring collaborators from around the world is currently underway at Nipissing University.

The multi-disciplinary project, is being conducted by a team of six researchers, including Dr. Coren Apicella, assistant professor of psychology, University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Anna Dreber, professor of economics, Stockholm School of Economics; Dr. Magnus Johannesson, professor of economics, Stockholm School of Economics; Dr. Pranjal Mehta, senior lecturer psychology, University College London; Dr. Gideon Nave, assistant professor at the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Justin Carré, associate professor of psychology, Nipissing University. All testing will take place in Dr. Carré’s Social Neuroendocrinology Lab at Nipissing University. 

The large-scale testosterone administration study is investigating whether the hormone testosterone influences economic decision-making in young men.  It is the largest single dose testosterone administration study ever conducted.

Previous work on testosterone’s role in modulating economic decision-making has yielded conflicting evidence due to key limitations, including the use of correlational designs and very small sample sizes. This international collaboration will address these limitations by employing a pharmacological challenge approach in a sample of 1,000 healthy young men (18-45 years old), providing a definitive test of the role of testosterone in modulating economic decision-making.

In the study, men will be randomly assigned to receive a single dose of intranasal testosterone gel (or placebo gel) and will perform a number of well-validated economic decision-making tasks. The researchers will also measure key personality traits previously found to influence the relationship between testosterone and human social behaviour.

“This is certainly a testament to the world-class facilities that exist here at Nipissing,” said Dr. Carré.  “My colleagues and I have been discussing this project for about two years and we each have our own niche area. The reason we chose Nipissing University as the main test site is that the Social Neuroendocrinology Lab has extensive experience with testosterone administration protocols, and is capable of testing a large number of individuals quickly and efficiently, which is vital to the study.”

Testing has already begun at Nipissing and data collection is expected to run for 12 to 18 months. The data will then be analyzed by the team to provide conclusions around the question of how testosterone affects economic decision-making in young men.

The project is expected to be complete within 12-18 months and to cost $180,000. Funding for the project is provided by a grant from the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences to Dr. Anna Dreber and Dr. Magnus Johannesson.

Nipissing’s Social Neuroendocrinology Lab was constructed thanks to a Canada Foundation for Innovation infrastructure grant.


Biographies of researchers involved in the project

Coren Apicella, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. She studies both hunter-gatherers and Westerners to explore the cultural and evolutionary origins of human behaviour. Her work specializes in mate selection and attraction, behavioural endocrinology, behaviour genetics, sex differences, behavioural economics and social networks, and the evolution of cooperation. Her work has been published in top journals such as Nature, PNAS, Current Biology, and Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences. Website:

Justin Carré, Ph.D. is an associate professor of psychology at Nipissing University. His research uses techniques from pharmacology, experimental psychology, neuroendocrinology and genetics to understand the complex mechanisms giving rise to individual differences in human aggressive behaviour. His research has been published in top academic journals including Biological Psychiatry, Psychological Science, and Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences. Website:

Anna Dreber, Ph.D. is the Johan Bjorkman professor of economics at the Stockholm School of Economics. She is also a Wallenberg Academy Fellow, a member of the Young Academy of Sweden, and a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. She is broadly interested in behavioural economics, the replicability of science, and the hormonal contributions to economic decision-making. Her work, including highly impactful papers published in ScienceNature, PNAS, and Psychological Science, has received more than 6,000 citationsWebsite:

Magnus Johannesson, Ph.D. is a professor of economics at the Stockholm School of Economics. His research spans the fields of behavioural and experimental economics, and includes understanding the biological (e.g., hormonal, genetic) underpinnings of human decision-making. He has published over 200 articles, many in top journals including Nature, Science, and PNAS. Website:

Pranjal Mehta, Ph.D. is a Senior Lecturer of psychology at the University College London in the UK. He studies the social neuroendocrinology of human status hierarchies with a particular focus on how hormones associated with status-seeking (testosterone) and stress (cortisol) interact with one another and the social context to regulate behaviours in status hierarchies, such as leadership behaviour, risky decision making, and group performance. His work has been published in PNAS, Psychological Science, and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Website:

Gideon Nave, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. His research uses quantitative and experimental methods from the fields of Computational Neuroscience, Cognitive Psychology, Game Theory and Machine Learning for reverse-engineering the decision-making process in humans. His recent work examining the role of hormones in cognition and decision making has been published in PNAS, Psychological Science, and Neuropsychopharmacology. Website:

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