Taking charge not only makes for more powerful women, but channeling your inner HBIC is also a natural testosterone booster
Want to increase your sex drive, improve your memory and verbal skills, boost your fertility, lose weight, and confidently take more risks? Then do your best Donald Trump impression and fire some people.
Okay, maybe you don't actually have firing power or maybe you actually like all your employees, but according to a new study, simply acting like a boss can immediately increase your levels of testosterone. And increasing the powerful hormone can in turn make you an even more powerful lady boss.
In the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers asked actors and actresses to give a monologue pretending to be a boss and firing an employee. They instructed both groups to do it in a stereotypically masculine fashion ("be blunt and mean") and then in a traditionally—albeit still offensive—feminine way ("be nice and act unsure").
Both groups saw a rise in the amount of testosterone in their saliva levels. However, women saw the largest gains, with a 10 percent jump from their baseline hormone level. Even more interesting, the women saw their testosterone rise no matter which gender stereotype they acted out. (Learn about The 20 Most Important Hormones for Your Health.)
Most people recognize that hormones influence how we feel, but this study shows that how we feel can also alter our hormone levels. And while the exact mechanism isn't known, it does seem that there is something about the act of wielding power over someone else that can directly affect our bodies, Sari van Anders, Ph.D., lead author and an associate professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor explained in the study.
So why would women want a boost of the male hormone? Well, while men produce testosterone via their testicles, womens' ovaries also produce a small amount, which researchers say is as necessary to our health as it is to his. According to a landmark study published in the World Journal of Urology, women who are low on testosterone often experience weight gain, hair loss, depression, exhaustion, increased cardiovascular disease, and low libido. And separate studies have found that raising a woman's testosterone levels back to the normal range improves memory and learning, increases fertility, lowers depression, and increases confidence.
Yet supplementing with the hormone can be dicey—in fact, the Endocrine Society issued an official Clinical Practice Guideline last year advising against the use of testosterone therapy in healthy women—so researchers have been looking for ways to naturally raise levels in both sexes. Past research has found that exercise, particularly weight lifting and interval training, provides a consistent boost. But this may be the first study that shows you can raise a hormone level simply through the power of your mind.
While this study is intriguing, scientists caution that more research needs to be done on the subject. For instance, we need to see if the testosterone boost lasts longer than a few minutes and if the effect is really from feeling powerful or simply from delivering a certain type of monologue. But the possibility is exciting—and, let's be honest, the world needs more lady bosses. (Steal tricks from 28 Powerful Women As They Share Their Best Advice.)
And you don't have to go around firing people just to score the perk. Start by adopting a signature "power pose" (like the Superman), which a Harvard study found can actually boost your confidence and make you appear more powerful to others. Then mentally review your successes and be kind to yourself about past failures—University of California, Berkley research has shown that self-compassion helps people become more powerful leaders. Lastly, make your voice heard. Whether you're growling "You're fired" at an underling or discussing a group project, speak up and use the power you do have in order to score that testosterone boost and become the ultimate lady boss.