long term cortisol exposure predicts the strength of sexual preference
Healthy individuals tend to consume available rewards like food and sex. This tendency is attenuated or amplified in most stress-related psychiatric conditions, so we asked if it depends on endogenous levels of the 'canonical stress hormone' cortisol. We unobtrusively quantified how hard healthy heterosexual men would work to consume erotic images of women versus men and also measured their exposure to endogenous cortisol in the prior two months. We used linear models to predict the strength of sexual preference from cortisol level, after accounting for other potential explanations. Heterosexual preference declines with self-reported anhedonia but increases with long term exposure to endogenous cortisol. These results suggest that cortisol may affect reward-related behavior in healthy adults.
Physiology and Behavior, 2014, Vol 131, p. 33-40
Adolescent; Adult; Anhedonia; Hair; Humans; Hydrocortisone; Linear Models; Male; Neuropsychological Tests; Photic Stimulation; Reward; Sexual Behavior; Visual Perception; Young Adult; Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't