Although prior research has demonstrated that reminders of money influence motivations and behaviors, there has been scant attention to whether money cues can alter physiological responses. An experiment testing male participants assessed whether being randomly assigned to handle money versus paper would change men's testosterone levels and affect financial risk-taking. Results showed that the effects of handling money on testosterone levels and risk-taking depended on trait narcissism. Among men low in narcissism, handling money led to a greater increase in testosterone levels from Time 1 (baseline) to Time 2 (post-manipulation) compared with their counterparts in a neutral, non-money condition. Conversely, highly narcissistic men who were randomly assigned to handle money exhibited a weaker increase in testosterone levels relative to men in the neutral condition. The results of moderated mediation analyses suggested that money exposure affected financial risk-taking through changes in testosterone levels. Men low in narcissism became more inclined to take risks through an increase in testosterone levels, whereas men high in narcissism became more risk averse via a decrease in testosterone levels.
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